Scottish researchers say they have found a possible link between a smoking ban in bars and restaurants and a reduction in severe heart attacks in New Zealand.
Edinburgh University researchers made a study in New Zealand three years after a smoking ban was introduced here, and found hospital admissions for heart attacks among men and women aged 55-74 fell by 9 percent.
This figure rose to 13 percent for 55-74 year olds who had never smoked, the university said in a statement.
Overall, the research showed heart attacks among people aged 30 and over fell by an average of 5 percent in the three years following the ban.
The Smokefree Environments Act 1990 banned smoking in offices from from February 1991, and a 2003 amendment took effect from 2004 to end all remaining smoking in indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants.
Researchers also found that heart attacks were reduced for ex-smokers of all ages, and that there was a greater drop in hospital admissions for men compared with women.
In addition, the study found that people in more affluent neighbourhoods benefited more from the ban than those in poorer areas, either because they visited cafes and restaurants more often or because they were more likely to use the smoking ban as an incentive to quit.
Dr Jamie Pearce, of Edinburgh, told the BBC: "This short-term research indicates a link between a smoking ban in bars and restaurants and a reduction in severe heart attacks. However, more work is needed to look at the effects of the ban in greater detail."
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