Rethinking Healthcare

Nanny state 1, smokers' rights 0

Nanny state 1, smokers' rights 0

Posting in Healthcare

Those who insist smoking is a personal choice that impacts no one else now see hard evidence that they are just wrong. Their habits are killing other people, probably people close to them, and costing everyone else a fortune.

Eliminating smoking in public places cuts heart attacks by an average 17% in just the first year.

(Close-up from the conservative blog Moonbattery .)

Just as important, cutting your own access to second-hand smoke cuts your personal risk of a heart attack substantially.

James Lightwood of UC-San Francisco pooled data from 13 other studies, covering 24 million people, and found the impact actually expanded with time.

Three years after a smoking ban heart attack rates were down 36%.

This means big money, and lots of lives. A 17% cut in heart attacks nationwide means 150,000 fewer such emergencies. The new results buttress the case for a January study showing that second-hand smoke costs $6 billion per year.

The results also buttress the awarding of a Lasker Award to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who led the fight against indoor smoking there, and set an example other communities are now following. My part of Atlanta stopped indoor smoking a year or so after New York.

The results will also upset those who cry "nanny state" over public health laws like those against public smoking. Those who insist smoking is a personal choice that impacts no one else now see hard evidence that they are just wrong. Their habits are killing other people, probably people close to them, and costing everyone else a fortune.

Where else might nanny state critics be wrong?

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure