Passive smoking kills an estimated 1,000 Britons every year. People who have never smoked but live with smokers have a 15 per cent greater risk of premature death than those in smoke-free households, a study has revealed.
It shows exposure to smoke in the home can dramatically increase the chances of developing a fatal illness. The findings - published yesterday on the online edition of the British Medical Journal - led to new demands for a ban on smoking in public. 'The results from this study add to the weight of evidence of harm caused by passive smoking and support steps to reduce exposure to other people's smoke - in the home and in other settings,' said the report's author, Dr Tony Blakely, report thisislondon.co.uk
Banning smoking in public places had a remarkable effect on the city of Helena, Montana, cutting hospital admissions for heart attacks by 40 per cent.
The ban lasted just six months before opponents overturned it. This allowed Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California to compare admissions for heart attacks before, during, and after the ban.
"The observations suggest that smoke-free laws not only protect people from the long-term dangers of second-hand smoke but also may be associated with a rapid decrease in heart attacks," he said, inform timesonline.co.uk
According to BBC Passive smoking is being blamed for an increased risk of death, heart disease and the slower healing of wounds. The researchers said their findings suggest that "smoke-free laws not only protect people from the long-term dangers of second-hand smoke but also that they may be associated with a rapid decrease in heart attacks".
The final study, into wound healing, found fibroblast cells became more adhesive because exposure to smoke altered their chemical make-up.
As well as reducing the speed of healing, this would account for abnormal scarring of wounds in passive smokers, as the cells remain concentrated at the edge of the wound, preventing it from closing properly, the researchers said.
Experiments are now being carried out on mice. Early results suggest those exposed to smoke for six months have wounds which heal more slowly.
The researchers said: "It is our hope that this work will lead eventually to the realisation that second-hand smoke exposure can be very damaging."