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Fall in child asthma hospital admissions after smoking ban

Research shows a 12.3% drop in the number of child hospital admissions for asthma symptoms since ban on smoking in England came into force

The number of children admitted to hospital in England with asthma symptoms has fallen since a ban on smoking in public and work places was introduced, according to a study.

Researchers found that hospital admissions of children aged 14 and under dropped by 12.3% in the first year after smoke-free legislation came into force on July 1 2007 in England.

Child hospital admissions due to asthma symptoms have fallen in England following the 2007 smoking ban, according to researchers

Child hospital admissions due to asthma symptoms have fallen in England following the 2007 smoking ban, according to researchers

The number also continued to fall, according to the study, as there were 6,802 fewer admissions in the first three years following the UK smoking ban.

There were also similar reductions in the number of admissions from children from different age, gender and socioeconomic groups and also among those living in both urban and rural areas.

Before the legislation was introduced, child hospital admissions for asthma symptoms were increasing by 2.2% a year with a peak of 26,969 admissions in 2006/2007, according to researchers.

The study, led by Dr Christopher J Millett from Imperial College London, was based on NHS hospital episodes statistics data from between April 2002 and November 2010.

‘Good news’

Dr Miller, clinical senior lecturer in the School of Public Heath, 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.

He added: “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.”

The charity Asthma UK welcomed the findings of the study and reiterated its calls for the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products.

Emily Humphreys, head of policy and public affairs at Asthma UK, said: “It’s great to see growing evidence of the positive impact of smoke-free legislation. This is something we campaigned for, so it is particularly encouraging that there has been a fall in children’s hospital admissions for asthma since its introduction.

She added: “We have long known that smoking and second hand smoke are harmful – they not only trigger asthma attacks which put children in hospital but can even cause them to develop the condition. We’ve seen the benefits of reducing second-hand smoke exposure; now we need to do more to prevent children and young people from taking up smoking by introducing plain packaging for tobacco.”

The ‘Hospital Admissions for Childhood Asthma after Smoke-Free Legislation in England’ was published online today (January 21) in the US journal Pediatrics. Authors of the study came from Imperial College London and the University of California in the US.

Similar smoking bans came into force first in Scotland on March 26 2006. Ban followed in Wales on April 2 2007 and in Northern Ireland on April 30 2007 before the ban in England.

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