September 27, 2007
Contact Audrey Silk, NYC C.L.A.S.H., (917) 888-9317
Contact David Kuneman, (314) 968-8241
Contact Michael McFadden, (215) 266-5083
Contact Dr. Michael Siegel


Today the New York State Department of Health released a study claiming to have found a reduction in hospital admissions for heart attack in the state and credit the state's smoking ban -- a law that authors of this study strongly advocated for -- for the decrease.
This is just one more piece of research massaged and tortured to reach the desired result in order to advance the anti-smoking agenda.  Science is not supposed to root for a particular outcome.  It's to study and dispassionately report the results.  The paper's introduction glaringly champions the law and then goes on to "prove" its preconceived conclusion.  Surprise, surprise. The study authors are advocates first and scientists second.  They have surpassed the tobacco industry as far as their work being of credible value. Their bias can be repeatedly demonstrated.
A statistical analysis of data from four states with statewide smoking bans showed no reduction in heart attack rates in the wake of these bans, and in fact, in most cases-- New York among them--actually showed an increase.

This counters the claims of anti-smoking activists that bans show immediate and drastic reductions.

In New York, where a statewide ban was enacted in July 2003, hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarctions  (AMIs) rose to 31,888 during the year the ban was implemented, from 31,728 in the pre-ban year-- an increase of 0.4%. Notably, during the same time span, heart attack rates decreased by 3.1% in a control group of 8 states without such bans, and by 2.8% nationally.

Using state-by-state data on hospital admissions for AMIs gathered from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a federal-state-industry resource, researchers David Kuneman, a research chemist, and Michael McFadden, author of a book on anti-tobacco science, analyzed data from New York, Florida, Oregon and California.  Their work was confirmed and expanded upon by Boston University tobacco-control specialist Michael Siegel. Neither of these studies was funded by any interest group or industry.

Their combined findings included the following:

     ¶ For California, where smoking in bars as well as restaurants was ended in January 1998, hospital admissions for AMIs increased 6% in the year following the ban, rising to 43,044 during 1998, from 40,608 in the previous year. And, extending the study for an additional year, through 1999, the rate of increase from 1997 was 9.9%

     ¶ For Oregon, which instituted a statewide smoking ban in family-style restaurants in 2001, heart attack admissions rose by 4% on a year before/ year after basis--4,957 in 2000; 4,927 in 2001; 5,125 in 2002.

     ¶ Florida, where a ban covering most bars plus all restaurants and clubs was implemented in July 2003, is the only state to show a slight--0.7%-- decrease in post-ban admissions for AMIs. But again, as Siegel demonstrates, comparison states without such bans experienced a decrease of 3.1% while the nation as a whole experienced a 2.8% reduction.

Two much-publicized studies conducted in the small communities of Helena, Montana and Pueblo, Colorado have claimed heart attack rate reductions ranging from 27% to 40% in the immediate six months following local bans. These findings have been criticized on a gamut of grounds-- from flawed methodology to conflict of interest. In neither city were any efforts made to determine the  smoking status of the population covered or their levels of exposure to secondhand smoke, either before or after the bans.  And finally, in Helena, a similar 6 month heart attack dip was observed in a period a few years earlier, before there were any bans whatsoever.

Those objections to the side, the sheer scale of the new studies-- in a scientific area where the number of people studied is directly related to the credibility of the findings-- should end the controversy.  The combined population of the four states studied is 350 times the combined population of Helena and Pueblo (70 million vs 200,000) and the total number of heart attacks among the four states was 1000 times greater (315,000 vs 315.)

Dr. Siegel sums it up: "If there were a true 27% or 40% decrease in heart attack admissions due to smoking bans that occurred almost immediately (within six months, as claimed), one would have expected to see a demonstrable decline in such admissions in states that implemented such bans."

But these two broad studies indicate the opposite.


More information is available on the Internet:

McFadden/ Kuneman paper:
Siegel paper: New Study Casts Doubt on Claim that Smoking Bans Substantially Reduce Heart Attack Admissions
Steven Milloy,, on the Helena study: Secondhand Smoke Scam
Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine, on the Helena study: Heartstopping Discovery: Do smoking bans cut heart attacks in half?