Heart disease down after smoking ban

But politicians are seeking to repeal parts of the ban on smoking in pubs

Smoking-related illnesses have dropped since the smoking ban in bars and restaurants took effect at the end of May last year across the Czech Republic.

The Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS ČR) compared the number of hospitalizations for the first six months of the smoking ban in restaurants with the same period when they were still smoking.

“In diseases such as heart attack, angina pectoris, coronary artery disease or asthma, limiting smoking can show effects almost immediately," said Eva Králíková, chairwoman of the Society for the Treatment of Tobacco Dependence.

“Overall, the number of hospitalizations has decreased by nearly 10,000 in five months," she said. A more pronounced decline was seen in people under the age of sixty.

In particular, 13.1 percent fewer people died due to a heart attack in the hospital, and 730 fewer were hospitalized. Angina pectoris is down 16 percent, coronary artery disease is down by 15 percent for patients up to 60 years and for those older by less than 12 percent. Asthma patients under 60 were hospitalized by 11 percent less.

The impact of other diseases such as such as cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by passive smoking will take longer to see.

Lung cancer is still increasing, as it takes longer for symptoms to show. Women are more likely to suffer from it than men. The number of women with lung cancer has grown by about a third in the last 10 years, and deaths are up by one-fifth.

Some members of Parliament, however, are already trying to overturn parts of the smoking ban.

Parliamentary Deputy Marek Benda (ODS) has proposed that smaller pubs or bars shouldn’t face a complete ban. The government does not support the proposal.

Benda says the data is terribly preliminary. “No one really knows if it is related to the smoking ban,” he said.

“I do not want to cancel the law on banning smoking in restaurants. I am just proposing reasonable mitigation. I consider the campaign of those against it to be nonsense,” he told daily Mladá fronta Dnes.

Doctors have initiated a petition to maintain a smoking ban in restaurants and pubs in connection with proposals to change the anti-smoking law in the Czech Republic. “No law forbids anyone to smoke. Smokers, of course, can smoke, but not where others are breathing,” Pavel Pafko, head of the surgical clinic in Motol Hospital said.

Doctors who support the petition say that after decades of the debate they had hoped the issue of smoking in enclosed areas around other people had finally been resolved.

The smoking ban that took effect last year applies to all pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars, and there is no possibility to have segregated smoking room. There is an exception for bars with water pipes such as hookahs. Smoking is also be banned at public transportation stops. Zoos are now included, with the exception of a possible restricted smoking area.

Medical facilities are also covered by the ban, with the exception of enclosed areas in psychiatric wards. Areas related to medical facilities are also included, such as hallways and waiting rooms.

A total smoking ban also applies to indoor entertainment facilities and spaces such as ballrooms, discos, exhibition halls and concert venues. The ban also extends to the interior and exterior of all schools.

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