Expert Panel: Smoking Bans Save Lives
Institute of Medicine Analysis Highlights the Heart Risks of Secondhand Smoke
WebMD News Archive
Oct. 15, 2009 -- Even limited exposure to secondhand smoke can increase
the odds of heart attacks in people who
have heart disease or are at risk, an
expert panel report commissioned by the CDC confirms.
Another major finding by the panel: Smoking bans work.
“The report confirms that eliminating smoking in workplaces, restaurants,
bars, and other public places is an effective way to protect Americans from the
health effects of secondhand smoke, particularly on the cardiovascular system,”
CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, says in a news release.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel reviewed the research examining the
impact of smoking bans on cardiovascular risk and the relationship between
secondhand smoke and heart disease.
Panel members discussed their findings in a news conference, telling
reporters that no single study was without its flaws but taken as a whole the
research shows that secondhand smoke can cause heart attacks.
Laboratory studies show that even minimal exposure to secondhand smoke can
increase blood clotting and constrict blood vessels, two major risk factors for
“If you have heart disease, you really need to stay away from secondhand
smoke. It is an immediate threat to your life,” physician and smoking
researcher Neil Benowitz, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco,
said at the news conference.
He added that because many people don’t know they have heart disease until
they have a heart attack, anyone could be at risk.
“Even if you think you are perfectly healthy, secondhand smoke could be a
potential threat to you,” he said.