Kids Get a Breath of Smoke-Free Air

Asthma in children decreased after smoke free policy banned indoor smoking

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Asthma attacks are serious problems, especially in children. Why aggravate asthma attacks that lead to hospital visits by exposing kids to smoke?

A recent study looked at the hospital admission rates among children with asthma before and after smoke-free legislation banned smoking indoors in the UK.

Consistent with previous studies in Scotland and the US, researchers found a significant reduction in children’s hospital admissions for asthma every year after smoke-free policies went into effect.

"Never smoke around children."

Christopher Millett, PhD, Senior Lecturer in the School of Public Health at the Imperial College London in the UK, led a group of colleagues to determine whether smoke-free laws in the UK had lowered hospital admissions for children with asthma.

On July 1, 2007 the UK enacted smoke-free legislation in enclosed public places and workplaces across the nation.

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed hospital data on children aged 14 and younger from before the smoke-free policy (2002 to 2007) and after the policy (2007 to 2010).

Prior to the smoke-free policy, the rate of hospital admission for children due to asthma was increasing by 2 percent every year.

After the smoke-free policy, the admission rate dropped by 9 percent and an additional 3 percent per year afterwards. After the first 3 years of the policy going into affect, there were 6,802 fewer admissions per year.

For their analysis, researchers divided the children into two age groups: 0 to 4 years and 5 to 14 years. They found both age groups benefited equally from the smoke-free policy. That is, both age groups had fewer admissions.

Milind Pansare, MD, MBBS,  Clinical Assistant Professor, Division of Allergy/Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan and dailyRx Contributing Expert said "This study highlights how a simple community intervention can improve health outcomes in children. Several studies have shown ill health effects of tobacco smoke exposure in children even while in mother's womb.

"These include increased respiratory infections,decreased lung functions and wheezing. Smoking is a major risk factor for asthma. Uncontrolled asthma then results in poor quality of life, increased medical costs, missed school days and work days for parents and risks of severe exacerbations. Stopping secondhand smoking for prevention is always better than a cure!"

The authors added that smoke-free legislation in Scotland in 2006 caused an 18 percent reduction in the same type of admissions. In Arizona and Kentucky, a 22 percent reduction has been calculated.

The authors concluded, “These findings confirm those from a small number of previous studies suggesting that the well-documented population health benefits of comprehensive smoke-free legislation appear to extend to reducing hospital admission for childhood asthma.”

This study confirms the benefit of smoke-free environments to children’s health by documenting reductions in hospital admissions for asthma.

This study was published in January in Pediatrics.

The study was not funded by external contributions. However, individual authors have received funding from various public health research institutes. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 21, 2013
Last Updated:
February 1, 2013