The introduction of smoke-free legislation in England was immediately followed by a fall in the number of children admitted to hospital with asthma symptoms, a new study has found.
NHS statistics analysed by researchers at Imperial College London show a 12.3 per cent fall in admissions for childhood asthma in the first year after the law on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces came into effect in July 2007. The researchers found that asthma admissions continued to fall in subsequent years, suggesting that the benefits of the legislation were sustained over time.
The effect was equivalent to 6,802 fewer hospital admissions in the first three years of the legislation, according to the analysis published today in the journal Pediatrics.
Asthma affects one in every 11 children in the UK. Before the law was implemented, hospital admissions for children suffering a severe asthma attack were increasing by 2.2 per cent per year, peaking at 26,969 admissions in 2006/2007. The trend reversed immediately after the law came into effect, with lower admission rates among boys and girls of all ages. There were similar reductions among children in wealthy and poor neighbourhoods, both in cities and in rural areas.
Previous studies have shown that hospital admissions for childhood asthma fell after smoke-free legislation was introduced in Scotland and North America. The law in England was also found to have reduced the rate of heart attacks.
Dr Christopher Millett, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, who led the study, said: "There is already evidence that eliminating smoking from public places has resulted in substantial population health benefits in England, and this study shows that those benefits extend to reducing hospital admissions for childhood asthma.
"Previous studies have also suggested that the smoke-free law changed people's attitudes about exposing others to second-hand smoke and led more people to abstain from smoking voluntarily at home and in cars. We think that exposing children to less second-hand smoke in these settings probably played in important role in reducing asthma attacks. "The findings are good news for England, and they should encourage countries where public smoking is permitted to consider introducing similar legislation."
For further information please contact:
Research Media Officer
Imperial College London
Tel: +44(0)20 7594 2198
Out of hours duty press officer: +44(0)7803 886 248
Notes to editors
1. C. Millett et al. 'Hospital Admissions for Childhood Asthma After Smoke-free Legislation in England' Pediatrics 2013;131:1 doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-0001
2. About Imperial College London
Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.
Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.
In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.