18% drop in asthma children taken to hospital since public smoke ban
THE rate of children being admitted to hospital with asthma has dropped significantly since smoking was banned in public places in Scotland, research suggests.
The study by Glasgow University found that the rate of hospitalisations for children has dropped by more than 18 per cent year-on-year since the ban came into force in 2006.
The research follows previous studies which found that the smoke-free legislation in
Scotland has also cut heart attacks and breathing problems.
For the latest study, the researchers, led by Professor Jill Pell at the Centre for Population Health Studies, analysed data on hospital admissions for asthma in Scotland from January 2000 to October 2009 among children under the age of 15.
They found that before the smoking ban came into force, admissions for asthma were increasing at an average rate of 5.2 per cent a year.
But, after the ban, admissions decreased by 18.2 per cent per year, relative to the rate on 26 March 2006 - the day the smoking ban came into force across the country.
The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, follows previous research by Prof Pell in 2007 which showed a reduction in respiratory problems among bar workers following the introduction of the ban on smoking.
The researchers also previously discovered a 17 per cent year-on-year drop in hospital admissions for heart attacks after the ban.
Prof Pell said the aim of the research had been to determine whether the smoking ban produced benefits for people who no longer had occupational exposure to tobacco smoke. It is thought the drop in asthma cases in children could be due to parents smoking less in the home or imposing their own bans following the introduction of the legislation.
"We found a reduction in asthma admissions among both pre-school and school-age children," Prof Pell said.
"It is clear that smoke-free legislation has resulted in a reduction in the rate of respiratory disease in populations other than those with occupational exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
"Before implementation of the smoking ban, there was concern that it might result in the transfer of smoking activity to homes, leading paradoxically to an increase in exposure to environmental smoke among children.
"Other studies have shown that this is not the case, rather the smoking legislation has resulted in an increase in voluntary bans within homes."
During the period studied by the researchers, there were 21,415 admissions for asthma - 11,796 in preschool children and 9,619 in school-age children.
Gordon Brown, of Asthma UK Scotland, said: "Despite the fact that these are welcome figures, Scotland still has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the world.
"A reduction in smoking has clearly had a positive impact, but we believe that more needs to be done.
"We are working very hard in getting people to self-manage their asthma and are investing in working with schools in this area."
Published Date: 16 September 2010
By Lyndsay Moss
Smoke ban helps cut child asthma