Those U.S. hoteliers still hanging on to smoking rooms or still allowing smoking in public areas such as restaurants, bars and casinos should pay attention to research detailed in two new reports. In the studies analyzing the dangers of passive smoking (detailed in an article in the Wall Street Journal), researchers 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 had been adopted. After three years, the rate had dropped about 26 percent. The biggest declines in heart attacks were seen among non-smokers and people between the ages of 40 and 60 years.
The studies, conducted since 2004, involved a combined total of roughly 24 million people. David Meyers, a preventive cardiologist at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and lead author of one of the reports, said that on a national basis, a 17 percent decline would amount to avoiding more than 150,000 heart attacks annually.
Currently, 17 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and more than 350 cities and towns in the United States have regulations banning smoking in workplaces, bars and restaurants, according to advocacy group Americans for Non-smokers Rights. The bans cover about 40 percent of the U.S. population. An additional 14 states prohibit smoking in one or two of those public locations. And 19 states—mostly in the South and the Midwest—don't completely outlaw smoking in any public area, the group says.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, "While smoking tobacco is known to heighten risk of heart attacks over a lifetime, there is some evidence that even short exposure to second-hand smoke can raise the risk of heart attacks. It can increase blood pressure, cause blood platelets to become sticky and injure cells that line the interior walls of blood vessels—all factors that can promote heart attacks."
Numerous hotel chains and many independents have eliminated smoking anywhere within their lodging establishments. (See FreshStay.com.) With so much evidence linking second-hand smoke to cancer and heart attacks, isn't it time every lodging establishment and restaurant in the United States banned smoking? What do you think?