11,000 fewer children are being admitted to hospital each year with lung infections because of the ban on smoking in public indoor places, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.
Analysing more than 1.6 hospital admissions of children aged 14 and under between 2001 and 2012, the researchers found an immediate reduction of 13.8% in the number of admissions for lower respiratory tract infections following the introduction of the smoking ban in 2007.
Dr Jasper Been, lead author of the study from the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our results add to the growing body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of smoke-free legislation. Although our results cannot definitively establish a cause and effect, the rigorous analysis clearly shows that the introduction of smoke-free legislation was associated with significant reductions in hospital admissions among children.”
His colleague, Professor Aziz Sheikh, also commented: “When you look at the results of this study alongside national data showing a decrease in smoking within the home, the findings greatly strengthen the recommendations for the global implementation of legislation prohibiting smoking in public places.”
The researchers pointed out that an estimated 166,000 children die worldwide each year from being exposed to second hand smoke. This is mostly due to respiratory tract infections, but also bacterial or viral lung diseases such as bronchitis and bronchiolitis.
George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy manager said: “Despite the smoking ban being aimed at pubs and clubs which are mostly used by adults, it’s great to see the message getting through that second hand smoke presents clear dangers to both children and adults.
“These findings show that keeping children out of a smoky atmosphere can have a real benefit on their health. Keeping homes and cars smoke-free helps them even more.”