UK study: Smoke-free laws decrease lung cancer cases

Published: Nov. 29, 2017 at 1:59 PM EST
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A new study conducted by the University of Kentucky shows there are fewer new cases of lung cancer in communities with strong smoke-free laws in the workplace.

Dr. Ellen Hahn and a team of researchers began a study back in 2004 when Lexington went smoke-free. The study found indoor air pollution in restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues dropped 91% after Lexington's smoke-free law went into effect. She says there were some surprising results, as well.

"What's remarkable is that we do not see the same effect when communities pass laws that are partial, meaning some people are left behind. So, if not everyone is protected from second-hand smoke in a community, they will not see the benefits."

Hahn says smoke-free laws have improved public health in many ways, linking to lower rates of heart attacks, stroke, asthma, and emphysema.

"Smoke-free laws are a public health vaccine. They really do protect us from the diseases that kill us and the societal costs are enormous."

Kentucky has more cases of lung cancer than any other state with more than 4,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

Dr. Hahn says they're hoping these findings will encourage more communities across the state to adopt smoke-free workplace laws.

"If every county in Kentucky had a strong smoke-free law we would see 325 fewer cases of lung cancer every year. Behind those numbers are tears and real people."