Senior study author Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues reviewed 45 studies covering 33 smoke-free laws in countries as varied as Uruguay, New Zealand, Germany and the United States. The meta-analysis found:
-- The most comprehensive laws -- those covering workplaces, restaurants and bars -- resulted in the highest health benefits.
-- Comprehensive smoke-free laws were associated with a rapid 15 percent decrease in heart attack hospitalizations and 16 percent decrease in stroke hospitalizations.
-- Smoke-free laws were also rapidly followed by a 24 percent decrease in hospitalizations for respiratory diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
"Stronger legislation means immediate reductions in secondhand smoke-related health problems as a byproduct of reductions in secondhand smoke exposure and increases in smoking cessation that accompany these laws," Glantz said in a statement. "Passage of these laws formalize and accelerate social change and the associated immediate health benefits."
The findings were published in the journal Circulation.