Study finds local heart health has improved since 2012 smoke-free ordinance

INDIANAPOLIS - Thursday marked the five-year anniversary of the city's smoking ban.

While some might find the law controversial, leaders behind the movement used the anniversary to show the ban continues to promote a healthier life.

Smoke Free Indy, which led the effort in 2012, released the results of a study which showed a drop in the number of heart attack admissions at Indianapolis and Marion County hospitals.

The study was co-authored by Dr. Yi Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health at the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health.

Wang compared heart attack admissions during a period of time before and after the Indianapolis smoke-free air ordinance was in effect, and found that admissions had decreased.

“The main finding is that monthly heart attack admissions declined 25 percent in Indianapolis and 20 percent in Marion County after the Indianapolis smoke-free air law was implemented,” said Wang.

Data for the study was collected on heart attack admissions from five major hospitals in Marion County between May 2007 and December 2014.

“It’s always a good feeling when you see things you’ve done, whether or not it’s five years ago, still positively affecting lives in Indianapolis today," said Earnest Davis, the chairman of Smoke Free Indy.

The study was meant to measure the public health impact of the Indianapolis comprehensive smoke-free air ordinance. This law protects all workplaces, restaurants, bars and clubs.

The study provides more evidence of the health benefits that result from a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance and shows the actual public health gains that have taken place in Indianapolis community over the last five years.

“When cities adopt smoke-free bans we see reductions in the risk of heart attack and we see those reductions are long lasting," said Dr. Julie Clary, a cardiologist with IU Health. "They’ll continue much longer than just this initial five years.”

Similar results were found in other cities with smoking bans in place at the five year mark.

“As a cardiologist, this is really important to me," Clady said. "It’s important to my patients who already have heart disease, who have already made the right life choices – they’re not smoking, they’re trying to make the right decisions. Now they have the opportunity to go out for a nice heart-healthy dinner and not be exposed to that second-hand smoke.”

Roxanne Estela worked at Massachusetts Avenue’s Old Point Tavern in Indianapolis before and after the law was implemented.  She remembers how the law helped improve her health and workplace environment.

“I loved my job, but hated working in an atmosphere where I had to inhale smoke every day,” Estela said. “I have asthma and I would cough all day long. The bar even had a smoke eater to filter the smoke, but it didn't help. On a busy night, the bar would be filled with a smoky haze. I was so happy when the law passed. Even coworkers who smoked noted that they were coughing less and felt a lot better being in a smoke-free environment.”

For more information on the study and its findings click here.

There were disparities observed by this study, since not all municipalities in Marion County are covered by a comprehensive smoke-free air law.

The cities of Speedway, Southport, and Beech Grove are not smoke-free in all workplaces and public places, which may contribute to the difference in rates.

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