December 12, 2010

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Direct Evidence that Smokefree Laws Immediately Save Millions in Health Costs

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health recently demonstrated that implementation of the Arizona statewide smokefree indoor air law was associated with drops in hospital admissions for not only heart attacks (which has been shown in many places already), but also for angina (chest pain), stroke, asthma.  They showed that there were drops in Arizona counties that had no smoking restrictions before the state law went into effect, but not ones that were already smokefree.  They also showed no changes in hospital admissions for diseases not cause by secondhand smoke. This is exactly what one would expect to happen if the law was making a big difference. The most important piece of information in the study, however, was a direct estimate of the hospitalization costs avoided.  In the first 13 months, the law was associated with savings of $16.8 million, 15% of hospitalization costs for these four conditions.  This is all the more impressive when you consider that the major population centers in Arizona were already smokefree. This study provides more evidence that we should shift from thinking about tobacco control as long run prevention to a higlhy effective, simple and inexpensive form of medical care cost containment. The full paper is available at

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