Article Comment 

Study: Heart attacks down since smoking ban


Tim Pratt



STARKVILLE -- A Mississippi State University study released Monday shows a 27 percent decrease in heart attacks among Starkville residents since the city passed its no-smoking ordinance in 2006. 


The study by Robert McMillen and Dr. Robert Collins focused on Starkville residents in the three years since the city''s Board of Aldermen passed the indoor smoking ban compared to the three prior years. Oktibbeha County Hospital and North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo treated a combined 51 Starkville residents for heart attacks in the three years before the smoking ban was enacted, but only 37 in the three years since, the study revealed.  


Researchers see a correlation between the no-smoking policy and the decrease in heart attacks.  


"My response would be what else changed to cause it?" Collins said when asked if the smoking ban led to the decrease in heart attacks. "Less obesity? Better (blood pressure) control? Better eating habits? All of those are associated with long-term risk of heart attacks. Only cessation of smoking and smoke exposure has an immediate effect on heart attacks." 


Collins is director of University Health Services at MSU; McMillen is an assistant professor in the psychology department and researcher at MSU''s nationally recognized Social Science Research Center. 


Their findings are part of a larger SSRC evaluation of Mississippi communities that passed smoking bans in recent years.  


The MSU investigation also mirrors findings of a federally commissioned panel of scientists recently made public. Commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that report by the independent and non-profit Institute of Medicine examined information from 11 studies of communities in Canada, Italy, Scotland and the U.S. 


The CDC/Institute of Medicine conclusion: Bans on smoking in public places reduces cases of heart attacks and heart disease.  


"It''s important to realize that the reduction we observed in Starkville is not unique," McMillen said Monday afternoon. "Similar reductions have been found in 11 other studies - and many of these studies were based on cities or regions with much larger populations. Taken as a whole, these studies have persuaded the Institute of Medicine that smoke-free laws do indeed (lead) to reductions in heart attacks." 




Looking elsewhere 


In addition to Starkville, larger Mississippi communities with public-place smoking bans include Tupelo, Meridian, Hattiesburg, Greenwood, Grenada and Pontotoc. In all, some two dozen Magnolia State municipalities have bans, including the city of Aberdeen whose ban is outright, with no smoking inside or in the vicinity of any public building.  


Nationwide, 17 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia ban smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces. Also, 14 other states and more than 350 cities and towns ban smoking in one or two of those types of establishments, according to the advocacy group Americans for Nonsmokers'' Rights. 


Former Starkville Ward 5 Alderman Matt Cox, who was instrumental in pushing for the smoking ban in 2006, was pleased to see facts supporting the benefits of the no-smoking policy instead of just anecdotal evidence, such as comments from servers and patrons. 


"Seeing these hard facts and data, I''m expecting policy makers around the state are going to look at this and take it much more seriously than they have in the past," Cox said. "It''s no longer just an issue of Starkville trying to be a leading, healthy community, which is what we wanted. There appears to be significant health benefits for the community at large. Hopefully this will give policy makers around the state a chance to look at this and take it more seriously." 




Economic benefit 


Collins, an MSU physician since 1977, said the 14 fewer heart attacks for local citizens over the past three years resulted in an estimated $750,000 not spent on heart attack aftercare, based on reports of the average financial costs for heart attacks.  


Data from the Mississippi State Department of Health and national figures indicates the state would save an estimated $125 million annually in health care expenses if a legislatively mandated smoking ban was enacted, he added. 


McMillen and Collins are recommending a statewide public ban on smoking.  


"I plead with the Mississippi Legislature to ban smoking in public places," Collins said. "Our data reflects the findings of every other community that has looked at what happened when smoking is banned in public venues."  


Roy Hart, director of the Office of Tobacco Control at the MSDH, also supports additional smoking bans in public places. He said enacting smoking restrictions is one of the simplest, healthiest and cost-effective "tobacco control strategies." 


"Smoking restrictions save lives, reduce health care costs and youth smoking initiation and encourage smokers to quit," Hart said. 


Anti-smoking advocacy groups in Mississippi, including chapters of the American Heart and American Stroke associations, long have supported efforts to ban smoking in public places throughout the state.  


"Improving the health of Mississippians is the main reason that groups all across the state fight for comprehensive smoke-free laws," said Katherine Bryant, public advocacy director for both Jackson-based organizations.  


"The American Heart Association, along with other coalition partners, hopes our lawmakers realize how vital strong smoke-free laws are to the health of all Mississippians," Bryant added.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Greg commented at 11/10/2009 10:57:00 AM:

Oh well, you can show Columbus all the statistics you want. The smokers are too stupid to listen. Just got to keep getting that nicotine fix regardless if it's bad for anyone around them.


Article Comment Bob commented at 11/10/2009 12:02:00 PM:

Do you know anyone that goes to a local bar to get healthy?


Article Comment walter commented at 11/10/2009 12:04:00 PM:

This has got to be the most phenomenal statistic I've ever seen; 26% drop in 3 years as the result of mere smoking ban!!!

If that stat is proven accurate, shouldn't growing and selling tobacco products be immediately outlawed and anyone caught engaging in such activity be imprisoned for life? Or, worse?

Given the statistical proof from a highly-reputable research university as MSU, aren't elected-officals guilty of malfeasance, if they fail to act more agressively to provide for the welfare of the people?


Article Comment TL commented at 11/10/2009 3:11:00 PM:

Thank you, O' Thank you to our "All Seeing and All Knowing Big Brother Government" for taking care of the smokers. I can only imagine those smokers who were going out for a night on the town, and upon finding that they could no longer smoke in the bars, put down those nasty, evil cigarettes forever... never to light up again! HA HA HA HA...GIVE ME BREAK! Anyone who believes that study by MSU is a total imbecile. TOO funny!


Article Comment MC commented at 11/10/2009 5:13:00 PM:

TL, I agree with you 100%. This "study" is utter nonsense. Do they really believe that a ban on smoking in public places caused lots of people to give it up? For anyone who knows ANYTHING about probability and statistics, the correlation the "researchers" have claimed is ridiculous. I am NOT a smoker, but as long as tobacco is a LEGAL product, cities have no place telling PRIVATE businesses that they cannot allow smoking in their establishments. I am really surprised that the ACLU hasn't gotten the courts to throw out this garbage.


Article Comment Greg commented at 11/10/2009 7:15:00 PM:

I just wanted to see a smoking ban in Columbus but I like your idea. Lets make tobacco illegal! It's toxic and unnatural and is not needed for the human body to sustain life. Think of how much can be money can be saved in medical bills alone. People living longer and families not destroyed by lung cancer. I like it! Vote "NO" against tobacco!


Article Comment TL commented at 11/10/2009 9:18:00 PM:

You stated about tobacco: "It's toxic and unnatural and is not needed for the human body to sustain life." So is alcohol! ALL that you stated about tobacco is true about alcohol as well. SO, should "Big Brother" ban that as well? I recall a time in America's past when they tried that. A time called "prohibition". Didn't work! I could go on and on about other items and substances we consume that are not vital to sustain life, but I think I have made my point. This is AMERICA, Land of the FREE as I recall. People with your mindset make me think of socialism and communism...oh, I almost forgot...liberals are in charge now and liberals WANT a socialistic society! One last thing, you don't REALLY believe that study by MSU to be remotely close to accurate do you? The numbers they are reporting are nothing but LAUGHABLE!


Article Comment Pete commented at 11/10/2009 9:50:00 PM:

I see that the smokers in denial are out in full force for this story. Listen fellows,if you want to hurt yourself with smoking or heavy drinking great. Just don't harm others by smoking in public or by driving drunk. It's just common sense whether you like it or not.,


Article Comment TL commented at 11/11/2009 12:05:00 AM:

Pete and Greg,
What we don't understand is...What's it to you? If you don't like it, STAY OUT of bars and restaurants that allow smokers! I have absolutely nothing against a PRIVATE bar or restaurant owner NOT allowing smokers. But in the same turn, if a PRIVATE business owner wants to allow something that is LEGAL to go in in their establishment, then so be it. ALL you have to do is NOT go in THEIR PRIVATE business if you don't like it. What in the hell is so hard to understand about that? What gives YOU the right to try and tell me or ANYONE else what is good for them? Us "smokers that are in denial" are just as important and have all the same rights bestowed on us as ANY American citizen. So quit trying to be our KEEPER and mind your own damn business!


Article Comment Robert Feal-Martinez commented at 11/11/2009 1:48:00 AM:

Most so called studies claiming massive reductions in heart attacks, have been unceremoniously debunked by genuine honest scientists. This one will not be any different. One thing that will be the same of course is that the main stream media will ignore this debunk.

It happened in the UK firstly in Scotland, which claimed a 17% reduction according to research, in year one of the ban. Only for the official NHS figures to show an 8% drop, which was a full 2% less than the average of the previous 10 years without the ban.

In England it was claimed up to a 40% drop, when analysed the research excluded any hospital which showed an increase, put together there was a 2% increase.

So do we trust the Big D sponsored Universities and research Institutes.


Article Comment mark commented at 11/11/2009 4:30:00 AM:

Somehow i don't believe their study either. I am a reformed smoker and a had a quad bypass. Since the bypass 5 yrs ago i still go to places that allow smoking and guess what i haven't had a heart attack! I have to raise the BS flag on MSU.


Article Comment Robert Feal-Martinez commented at 11/11/2009 6:34:00 AM:

I said it would be debunked and so it has by the world renowned pro ban, anti smoking advocate Professor Michael Siegel.


More Science by Press Release on Smoking Bans and Heart Attacks; Mississippi Study Conclusions are Based on Shoddy Science with No Comparison Group

Failure to Analyze Pre-Existing Trends in Heart Attacks Negates Conclusions of Study.

The study contains no comparison group, nor was there any assessment of baseline trends in heart attacks prior to the ban to determine whether the observed decline was occurring anyway, even without the smoking ban.

Need I say more. For the record I am a life long never smoker.


Article Comment Dave commented at 11/11/2009 10:48:00 AM:

Lets ban alcohol, fatty foods, fast food, guns, automobiles, electricity from coal, gas or oil, natural gas, unprotected sex, and return to the stone age. Why stop with just tobacco, imagine how many lives will be saved! We can all live forever in this totalitarian state! Or maybe some just need to move to someplace like Venzuala were someone like Chavez can tell you how to live.


Article Comment ted commented at 11/11/2009 12:32:00 PM:

Rednecks smoke. if you have had a quad bypass, It don't matter if you are around people that smoke or not, the big one is about 7 years away.


Article Comment Warren commented at 11/11/2009 12:44:00 PM:

All proving, once again, how really poorly we educate our people in Mississippi. Who can deny the great bulk of evidence over the decades that cigarette smoking is harmful? Certainly no one with the ability to think and act for themselves.


Article Comment Robert Feal-Martinez commented at 11/11/2009 2:36:00 PM:

Warren, unless I have missed something no one is denying the harmful effect of smoking. They are merely denying that a smoking ban has resulted in a major reduction in MI, which a anti smoking Professional is also questioning.


Article Comment TL commented at 11/11/2009 3:13:00 PM:

Hey Ted,

Every time I've ever seen Hugh Hefner, he's had a pipe sticking out of his mouth puffing on it. He's such a "redneck"!!


Article Comment arnold commented at 11/11/2009 5:40:00 PM:

look people our rights have been put to the vote of the polititions not the people this used to be AMERICIA. but now we are like the caged animals in the zoo. we have to conform. well not this person I will smoke until the day that I die and may god have mercy on the government and its leaders.


Article Comment Jake commented at 11/11/2009 6:38:00 PM:

Someone wrote "TL, I agree with you 100%. This "study" is utter nonsense. Do they really believe that a ban on smoking in public places caused lots of people to give it up?"

No, what happened was that NON-smokers breathed less secondhand smoke.

Also someone quoted "Dr" Siegel, a rabidly pro-smoking fanatic who pretends he is anti-smoking, as saying the decline in heart attacks was not due to the ban but rather was part of a long tern decline everywhere. In reality the long term decline everywhere was something like one percent per decade. When smoking was banned in public pplaces in Starkville, there was a 27 percent decline in a few weeks. The Starkville decline was due to the ban, not to some secular decline.


Article Comment Dr. Siegel commented at 11/11/2009 7:49:00 PM:

Actually, in Mississippi, heart attack deaths declined by 33.9% from 2000 to 2008. During the same time period as this study (2003-2008), heart attack deaths in the state dropped by 19.1%.

So there have been large declines in heart attacks in the state that have occurred even in the absence of a smoking ban. It's not so simple to observe a reduction in heart attacks and conclude that the decline is attributable to that ban.

None of this affects my support for smoking bans, which I believe are necessary to protect workers from tobacco smoke. But I do believe that these bans should be supported by solid scientific evidence.


Article Comment ET commented at 11/11/2009 8:37:00 PM:

Jake, it's pretty obvious that you're no statistician or scientist.


Article Comment TL commented at 11/11/2009 8:50:00 PM:

It's SOOOO simple people. A ban on smoking only shifts smokers from one place where they can't smoke to another place where they can. Along with the "shift" of where they can smoke comes the "holier than thou" arrogance of people who think that what they believe trumps what the smokers believe. Again, simple. The problem therein lies with those who think "they know best" wanting to impose their beliefs on private business. They want to take away the right of a private business owner to decide what they may or may not LEGALLY do inside the doors of THEIR private business. I am fairly positive that none of the anti-smokers were there when the private business owner raised the money and came up with a business plan to start their business. I'm also sure these same anti-smokers don't show up everyday at these businesses to help get the day started opening up, cleaning, stocking, preparing payroll, hiring and firing, and all the rest of the headaches that come with owning a business. But somehow, in their twisted little minds, they think they can impose their personal preferences on these business owners. How ABSURD is that? So to all you anti-smoking people...if you want a restaurant, bar, or hotel that is anti-smoking, do as these other hardworking business owners did and open one! As an American, you are free to open as many anti-smoking establishments that you want. Then all your cronies and you can sit there and do whatever it is you do.
...and for what it's worth, I personally DO NOT have a problem with smoking bans in public buildings such as the court house, library, etc., or any place where flammable chemicals and such are stored. BUT LEAVE PRIVATE BUSINESS OWNERS ALONE!!!! THEY know what's BEST for their business, not YOU!


Article Comment blahblahblah commented at 11/11/2009 11:09:00 PM:

1. What are the beginning and ending dates of the study? As in real dates, not just the year. I'm curious if this was a full 3-year study or not. Interesting timing on publishing the results, here in November. It conveniently cuts off before December and January, which are the top 2 heart attack months. I'd like to see what the statistics show later, in March, perhaps.
2. Did anyone compare the age of the population before the ban to the population at the end of the study? If there was a shift toward a younger population, that would be an additional reason for the decline, as younger people aren't as prone to heart attacks as older people.
3. Dr. Collins himself asks about other changes. And truly, those other changes could have had an impact on the results. People are more aware now of diabetic and blood pressure issues, etc., and let's not forget the ban on trans-fats, which would have a major impact. People still live on fast food and twinkies, but the fat content has been changed to a "less harmful" version.
4. Statistics can be skewed and laid out to achieve any desired outcome. They lie. Check the stats out of Wash. DC from one day to the next, even from the same person.
5. Of course, it's always possible that the smoking ban had "some"thing to do with the results. But I don't think it led a lot of people to quit. I don't live in Starkville. I am a smoker. The change it would affect in me is that I wouldn't eat out very much. Think that makes a difference? Let's see...eating out...high calorie content...associated concerns related to the eating out habit, vs. staying at home and eating healthier meals with healthier portions. Somebody wanna do that study?
Last, just for kicks, I'd like to see someone open a restaurant/bar for smokers ONLY. Sort of the reverse-discrimination thing. And all you non-smokers can't whine about not being allowed to partake. Columbus is a town with enough restaurants that if you don't want to be around smoke, you have plenty of places to eat, smoke-free. We smokers don't have many choices anymore, as there are more restaurants that are already non-smoking. On those that do allow it, there are a few that have the sections reversed, where non-smokers have to walk through (or worse, wait in line) the smoking section to get to the non-smoking section. Even this smoker thinks that should be corrected.
Gee, this topic is a lot more interesting than more of the MUW mess!


Article Comment Robert Feal-Martinez commented at 11/12/2009 2:11:00 AM:

Jake you really should do a little homework then you wouldn't make yourself seem, well, silly. Michael Siegel has an impressive record of giving evidence in support of smoking bans as a professional witness. He has been advocating bans for over 20 years. Your attack on his Professional status is totally without foundation, and I think you should apologise. Dr Siegel has made it clear he still very much supports bans, but any honest scientist he wants to see Professional integrity from his colleagues.

I do not agree with him as far as passive smoking is concerned, which he is aware of but his clinical analysis of smoking ban studies is exemplary.


Article Comment ted commented at 11/12/2009 8:46:00 AM:

no..he is a pretentious poser who only smokes a pipe as an accessory. I am talking about people from this area. You know..the ones that chain smoke Dorals in restaurants. Bars I can see. And no, There aren't many choices to eat in Columbus unless you eat at the crappy Eatwitus franchises, the crappy Chili's with horrible service or places where the prices don't match the food quality.

If smokers want to use their crutch because they are weak and easily addicted to stuff, they can go outside.


Article Comment TL commented at 11/12/2009 9:03:00 AM:

Hey Ted,

So I guess you don't care about the "rights" I posed that private business owners have regarding
the operation of that business?

Nice try at trying to dodge your "redneck" statement.

...and why don't YOU go outside and breathe that nice, clean air while you eat instead of breathing that recycled air from a furnace/AC with all those germs and dust being stirred around indoors!


Article Comment thats right commented at 11/13/2009 6:20:00 PM:



Article Comment Kulwick commented at 11/25/2009 7:42:00 AM:

This is not a personal rights or business rights issue any more. This has been changed into a public health issue. Just watch what else our friendly gov't does with the new found power of a public health issue.

More things to be Banned in your future:
1. Alcohol
2. Soda/Pop
3. Gasoline
4. Most Fast Food
5. Bug Spray
6. Gas Grills
7. Charcoal Grills

These are not in any specific order. The ones that can effect other people like tobacco smoke are most likely to come first. But as health cost continue to rise they will like add a new type to the collection of "Public Issues", maybe something like public cost issue. That would allow them to ban the rest of these items and many more.

We have been pigeon holed by labels, each with our own little compartment. Smoker/Non-Smoker, Gay/Straight, Republican/Democrat, etc. Now the Gov't can pass legislation concerning one group without fear of any other group stepping in to help.

The faster we all realize what is happening the better off we'll be. WAKE UP!!


Article Comment Mark commented at 11/25/2009 7:53:00 AM:

Corrupt science has two salient characteristics. First, instead of starting with a hypothesis and data and deriving from that a conclusion, it does just the opposite: starting with a desired conclusion, it then selects data in order to support the hypothesis. Second, it stifles dissent by excluding dissenters from the process of review and by using ad hominem arguments to question their character and motives. The EPA is guilty on both counts.

Of the 30 studies on spousal smoking referred to in the EPA report, only 6 found any statistically significant association between ETS and cancer in nonsmokers married to smokers, and none found a strong relative risk. The studies actually used by the EPA were limited to 11 studies done in the United States. Using the EPA's own Guidelines for Carcenogenic Risk Assessment, none of these showed a statistically significant risk. These guidelines call for a 95% Confidence Interval. By lowering it to 90%, only one of the 11 studies showed a statistically significant risk. More importantly, the two largest and most recent studies, one of which was partially funded by the National Cancer Institute, were omitted from consideration altogether. Had these two been included, no statistically significant risk would have been found even after lowering the Confidence Interval to 90%. Even after violating its own guidelines, in other words, the EPA could still show no statistically significant risk without selecting data to fit its hypothesis. This cooked data is the EPA's only basis for declaring ETS to be a "Group A" carcinogen. ("Group A", incidentally, does not mean "extra deadly". It simply means "human".)

The EPA's studies on ETS operate under a "zero threshold" hypothesis, or the assumption that if huge quantities of something are dangerous, then microscopic quantities are dangerous also. The data they used, however, fails to bear this out: virtually all of the studies used either found no risk at all or a risk so weak that it would not be considered significant if applied to other subjects.

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