The researchers investigated the association between U.S. smoking bans targeting workplaces, restaurants and bars passed from 1991 to 2008 and hospital admissions for smoking-related illnesses -- acute myocardial infarction and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- among Medicare beneficiaries age 65 or older.
In addition, to fewer heart attack admissions, admission rates for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease fell 11 percent where workplace smoking bans were in place and 15 percent where bar smoking bans were present.
However, there was very little effect found for hospitalization for gastrointestinal hemorrhage and hip fracture -- two conditions largely unrelated to smoking and examined as points of comparison.
The researchers -- Mark W. Vander Weg and Gary E. Rosenthal of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and Mary Vaughan Sarrazin of the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Research Enhancement Award Program, Midwest Veterans Affairs Rural Health Resource Center and Carver College of Medicine -- said their findings provide further support for the public health benefits of laws that limit exposure to tobacco smoke.
The findings were published in the journal Health Affairs.