smokingThere has been a sharp fall in the number of children admitted to hospital with severe asthma since smoke-free legislation was introduced for England in 2007.

New research from Imperial College London has shown there was a 12% drop in the first year after the law to stop smoking in enclosed public places came into force and there is growing evidence that many people are opting for smoke-free homes as well.

Prior to the smoke-free law much of the debate on the legislation centred on whether workers banned from smoking would respond by lighting up more at home but in fact, according to lead researcher Prof Christopher Millett, the ban has led to some "unexpected, but very welcome, changes in behaviour".

"We increasingly think it's because people are adopting smoke-free homes when these smoke-free laws are introduced and this is because they see the benefits of smoke-free laws in public places such as restaurants and they increasingly want to adopt them in their home," he said.

"This benefits children because they're less likely to be exposed to second hand smoke."

Presenting their findings in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers said the number of children admitted to hospital with severe asthma attacks was rising by more than 2% a year before the restrictions were introduced in July 2007.

Taking that into account, they calculated the fall in admissions in the next 12 months was 12%, and a further 3% in each of the following two years. They say over the three-year period, this was equivalent of about 6,800 admissions.

The fall was seen among boys and girls of all ages, across wealthy and deprived neighbourhoods, in cities and in rural areas.

Emily Humphreys from charity Asthma UK welcommed the findings and said: "This is something we campaigned for, so it is particularly encouraging that there has been a fall in children's hospital admissions for asthma since its introduction.

"We have long known that smoking and second hand smoke are harmful - they not only trigger asthma attacks which put children in hospital but can even cause them to develop the condition."

Posted 21/01/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com