by Penelope Lemov
National Nanny is the usual charge when a government -- federal, state or local -- tries to legislate better health behavior. There certainly was a flurry of that type of charge when, several years ago, smoking bans started moving from the workplace to restaurants to pubs and bars.
But let's score one for the Nanny. Two new and comprehensive reports have found that smoke-free laws reduced the rate of heart attacks by an average of 17 percent after one year (in communities where the bans were in effect); after three years, the rate dropped about 25 percent.
The Wall Street Journal's health blog notes that the reports were based on pooled analyses of separate studies from the U.S., Canada and Europe and that they involved a combined total of roughly 24 million people. According to David Meyers, one of the authors of one of the studies, a 17 percent decline on a national basis would amount to avoiding more than 150,000 heart attacks annually. His report is scheduled to appear September 29 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
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