Do Smoking Bans Save Lives?By Freakonomics
According to a new study, a statewide workplace smoking ban in Massachusetts may be responsible for a steep drop in heart-attack deaths since 2004.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which produced the study, says the biggest health gains came among those people the ban saved from regular exposure to second-hand smoke.
The rate of heart-disease-related deaths has been cut nearly in half in Massachusetts since 1999, and the downward trend began years before the workplace ban went into effect.
But there’s reason to believe that the ban accelerated the decline. For one, the cities and towns that saw health improvements earliest were the ones in which local smoking restrictions were enacted before the statewide ban. Now, two years after the statewide ban was put in place, heart-attack death rates have fallen to almost uniform levels across Massachusetts.
Tobacco companies, meanwhile, are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into research on how to create a safe cigarette (likely an impossible goal).
Smoking rates in the U.S. have fallen to their lowest levels since 1920, pushed down by the accumulating weight of medical evidence showing the grave health effects of tobacco use.