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Stopping Secondhand Smoke Would Bring Big Benefits

Researchers calculate it would reduce the number of heart attacks by nearly 300,000 over 25 years

MONDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- If non-smokers were no longer exposed to secondhand smoke, the national burden from coronary heart disease (CHD) would decline and continue to decrease over time, according to a first-of-its-kind study presented recently at the American Heart Association's 7th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Washington, D.C.

James Lightwood, Ph.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues started with showing that 4 percent to 17 percent of U.S. non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke. To make their calculations, they used the CHD Policy Model, which simulates the over-35 U.S. population, and national survey data on CHD risk factors, events and fatalities. Studies suggest that secondhand smoke exposes non-smokers to the daily equivalent of one cigarette, which accounts for about one-third of the excess CHD risk that results from smoking one pack per day.

The researchers calculated that secondhand smoke elimination would reduce new CHD cases by 8,600 to 9,300 cases annually, and by 228,300 cases over 25 years. They also calculated that it would reduce myocardial infarctions by 8,100 to 13,500 annually, and by 292,500 over 25 years, and that it would reduce CHD deaths by 2,200 to 6,400 annually and by 119,600 over 25 years.

"Ending passive smoking would quickly reduce CHD events substantially, and with increasing effect over time," the authors conclude.

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