Smoke-free regulations work. Since they were introduced, child health has improved significantly worldwide. The number of premature deliveries has also been reduced. This is indicated by a research published in Lancet Public Health and carried out by researchers from the University of Edinburgh (UK) and the Erasmus University Medical Centre (Netherlands): “This is a confirmation of the effectiveness of the regulations enforced in many countries around the world first and foremost for the protection of children’s health, as well as the adults. They are an important tool for counteracting cigarette smoke and encouraging more and more people to quit smoking,” adds Dr. Licia Siracusano, an oncologist and contact person at the Smoking Control Centre of the Humanitas Cancer Center.
Less hospital access
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis on forty-one studies referring to populations in North America, Europe and China where tobacco control policies have been introduced over the past decades. The studies had analyzed data for fifty-seven million births and 2.7 million hospital accesses.
It was found that the number of children who had to resort to hospital treatment for high airway infections has decreased by more than 18% since these laws became effective. In addition to this, there was also a reduction of just under 10% in the number of asthma attacks reported and a 4% reduction in the number of preterm deliveries.
Minors and passive smoking
In recent years in Italy, the legislator has taken important measures to limit the impact of passive smoking on health. For example, the historic 2003 anti-smoking law, which imposed a ban on smoking in enclosed public places, has resulted with a reduction in the number of smokers (in ten years, according to ISTAT, it went from 23.8% to 19.5% in 2014). Moreover, the number of heart attacks was also reduced by 5% per year, recalls the Ministry of Health. In 2016, a legislative decree introduced, among other provisions, a ban on smoking in cars in the presence of minors or pregnant women.
Children are the most vulnerable to exposure to cigarette smoke. Just think, as the authors of the research remind us, that half of the world’s children are regularly exposed to passive smoking and that 28% of the 600,000 deaths associated with passive smoking occur among them: “For a lesser part, the risks associated with passive smoking already begin during pregnancy if the mother smokes. In addition, breathing passive smoking can increase the risk of diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma, as well as damage to the circulatory system,” says Dr. Siracusano.
For this reason, all possible measures must be encouraged to successfully pursue the fight against cigarette smoking, not just by means of legal measures and by increasing taxes and prices on cigarette packs. In this way, this dependence can be increasingly discouraged, as pointed out by leading international experts, starting with the WHO, World Health Organization,” the specialist concludes.