Posted by: audreybenenati | January 6, 2010

The Top 10 Medical Advances of the Decade

From Genome to Hormones, Doctors Pick the Top Medical Advances of The Decade

…3. Anti-Smoking Laws and Campaigns Reduce Public Smoking

There is no national smoking ban in the United States. However, 27 states and the District of Columbia have enacted restrictions, including seven states that banned smoking in bars and casinos in recent years.

In a report issued last October, the Institute of Medicine said those public smoking bans have cut exposure to secondhand smoke, which, in turn, has contributed to a reduction in heart attacks and death from heart disease.

Dr. Lynn Goldman of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who chaired the committee that wrote the Institute’s report, said the debate was over and that, "Smoking bans work."

Experts on the history of medicine agreed.

In the United States, "anti-smoking campaigns, including banning of smoking in workplaces and public places [has] enormous impact across socio-economic classes on many diseases," said Humphreys of the Journal of the History of Medicine, who added that smoking increases the risk for strokes and many cancers.

"In terms of the greatest good for the greatest number, there can be no doubt that the decline in smoking has had the greatest impact," Humphreys added. "Virginia and North Carolina are just getting around to banning cigarettes in all restaurants now, so the public bans do track over the last 10 years."

While public smoking bans protect people from secondhand smoke, doctors said they also motivate people to quit.

"It’s probably the most important ‘doable’ public health measure for decreasing morbidity and mortality," said Dr. Richard Kahn of Tenants Harbor, Maine. "There is good data that as it becomes more difficult for people to smoke, more will quit."


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