- About 20,000+ heart attacks may have been avoided due to smoke-free law extensions implemented in Singapore in 2013.
- The benefit is more pronounced among males and individuals aged 65 years and above.
- Increased public awareness and adherence to these laws could further reduce heart attack incidences and improve public health.
It’s no secret that smoking takes a toll on our health.
But the impact of smoke-free laws on heart attacks?
That might be news to many.
A recent study conducted in Singapore may have brought us one step closer to understanding the extent of this impact.
Heart Attacks Take a Nose Dive
BMJ Global Health reports that a Singapore-based study examined the impact of smoke-free laws on heart attacks, also known as Acute Myocardial Infarctions (AMIs).
Not to be overly technical, but think of it as your heart’s cry for help in the form of disabling pain.
The culprit? A blockage in the arteries supplying blood to the heart.
The study revealed a significant drop in heart attacks following the extension of smoke-free laws in 2013.
Around 2,097 heart attacks may have been avoided for aged 65 years and below.
And a whopping 19,591 heart attacks may be prevented for aged 65 years and above.
Why Older Males Benefit More
Smoke-free laws had a bigger impact on men and elderly people.
Well, men tend to smoke more than women, and the elderly have hearts that have worked hard for several decades.
The accumulated exposure to harmful substances makes their hearts more vulnerable.
Implementing smoke-free laws means less exposure to second-hand smoke for these individuals, thereby reducing their risk of heart attacks.
In Public Spaces, the Air Now Cares
The study supported the idea that expanding smoke-free legislation to outdoor areas could be beneficial in reducing heart attacks.
That holds especially true for elderly populations who spend more time in these communal spaces.
Frequenting these areas, which include public housing estates, pedestrian linkways, overhead bridges and bus stops, may increase exposure to tobacco smoke.
However, the institution of smoke-free laws aims to mitigate this risk and reduce heart attacks.
But What About Buses and Taxis?
Interestingly, when smoke-free laws were extended to parks, educational institutions, buses, and taxis in 2016 and 2017, there was no significant drop in heart attacks.
This presents a mystery: why did these laws make a difference in one case but not the other?
More evidence is required to understand this, which necessitates further study.
Looking ahead, policymakers can use these findings when creating smoke-free laws.
These regulations can protect populations from secondhand smoke exposure and could lead to significant improvements in public health.
Moreover, it highlights the importance of compliance.
After all, laws are only effective when followed.
In 2020 alone, over 18,500 fines were issued for non-adherence with smoke-free laws.
That’s not a small number.
Every avoided heart attack is a victory – for the individual concerned and the healthcare system.
This study shines a light on how policies can positively impact public health.
So yes, beyond the wheezing and coughing, quitting smoking (or reducing exposure to it) could mean fewer heart attacks, particularly amongst older males.
In a time where health is of utmost concern, it’s time to usher in more smoke-free zones, don’t you reckon?