Individuals living in a community with comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws or regulations are 22 percent less likely to be hospitalized for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or emphysema. That is according to a recent study, “Fewer Hospitalizations for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Communities with Smoke-Free Public Policies,”published in the June 2014 issue of American Journal of Public Health.
The study compared patient discharge data compiled between 2003 and 2011 against data from the Smoke-free Ordinance database from the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy.
As of March 2013, over 28 states have smoke-free laws for workplaces, restaurants and bars and are considered to have “comprehensive smoke-free laws.” When compared to those communities that have moderate or weak smoke-free regulations, those living in communities with established (policies in place for one year or more) comprehensive smoke-free were 21 percent less likely to experience hospitalization due to COPD.
Ellen J. Hahn, professor and lead author of the study, states that comprehensive smoke-free laws that “have been in place for at least one year, may provide protection against exacerbations of COPD that lead to hospitalizations, with the potential to save lives and decrease health care costs."
Hahn also suggests that those living in states that “lack the protective factor of income or smoke-free laws” such as Kentucky, where the study was conducted, face a higher risk of COPD.