Secondhand Smoke Free Laws Reduce the Risk of Heart Attacks

Indoor smoke–free laws are effective at reducing the risk of heart attacks and heart disease associated with exposure to secondhand smoke, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report also confirms there is sufficient evidence that breathing secondhand smoke boosts nonsmokers′ risk for heart problems.
Secondhand Smoke and Heart Disease
Nonsmoking adults who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of coronary heart disease by 25–30%. In addition, exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. Secondhand smoke changes how your heart, blood, and blood vessels work in many ways. Studies have shown that brief exposure to secondhand smoke causes your blood platelets to stick together. It also damages the lining of your blood vessels. In your heart, these bad changes can cause a deadly heart attack.
What does the report say?
The report concludes that:
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke could cause acute coronary events, such as a heart attack.
  • Evidence suggests that even brief secondhand smoke exposure might trigger a heart attack.
  • Smoke–free bans decrease acute coronary events.
What does this report mean for you?
This report directly links secondhand smoke to acute coronary events, including heart attacks. Exposing yourself to secondhand smoke has immediate effects on the cardiovascular system and might even place you at risk of experiencing a heart attack.
How can I lower my risk and protect my family?
To protect yourself and your family, there are important steps you can take:
  • Don′t smoke or allow smoking indoors or in a vehicle, at anytime.
  • Take special precautions to ensure that family members who have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease avoid secondhand smoke exposure.
  • The most effective way to protect yourself and your family is to quit smoking. In addition to the negative effects of secondhand smoke on the heart, smoking is also a major risk factor for heart disease.
How many Americans are at risk?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. An estimated 80 million American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease.
  • More than 900,000 heart attacks occur in the U.S. every year.
  • Nearly 3 of 4 U.S. adults have at least one major cardiovascular risk factor.
  • More than half of people who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.
  • One in four U.S. indoor workers is still not protected by a complete smoke–free workplace policy. Montana became 100% indoor workplace smoke–free on October 1, 2009.
  • Almost three in five Americans do not live under comprehensive state or local laws that make workplaces, restaurants, and bars smoke-free.
About the report
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report is entitled ″Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence″. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public. For more information, visit: Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects–Making Sense of the Evidence
For information on secondhand smoke and related topics, call the HELP Committee at 265-6206. For assistance with quitting tobacco use, contact your physician or call the Montana Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).