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Cardiac Society welcomes smoking ban

Cardiac Society welcomes smoking ban - Second hand smoke linked with heart and circulatory disease

The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand says banning smoking in restaurants and bars will decrease the risks for those New Zealanders who face early death from coronary heart disease.

A study just presented to the American College of Cardiology showed that in a Massachusetts town where smoking was banned from all public places (including bars and restaurants), the rate of admission for heart attack fell rapidly by 60%.

The Society has welcomed the recommendation by Parliament’s Health Select Committee to ban smoking in bars and restaurants because there is clear evidence that second hand smoke causes heart and circulatory diseases.

Spokesman Dr Stewart Mann (Chairman of the Society for New Zealand) says it has been estimated that second-hand smoke causes 1200 heart attacks each year in New Zealand, as well as 500 strokes.

“About two thirds of the smoke from a cigarette is not inhaled by the smoker but is released into the air.”

Dr Mann says toxic substances in second-hand smoke are absorbed into the blood stream. He says these substances cause blood clots by damaging the lining of blood vessels and making the blood more sticky, as well as reducing the ability of the blood to carry oxygen.

“In my own practice at Hutt Hospital I see a number of patients in their thirties and forties with heart attacks - nearly all are smokers. I also see a number of patients with heart attacks who have no identifiable risk factors except passive smoking".

The Cardiac Society is concerned the public seriously underestimate the dangers of second hand smoke, and that public debate about the proposed legislation has centred on smokers rights or the comfort levels of non-smokers.

“Even short-term exposure to tobacco smoke compromises the cardiovascular system.”

Dr Mann points out there are more than 40 cancer-causing substances in second-hand smoke; of which eight are classed as so carcinogenic that there is no safe level of exposure.

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