Report: Smoking Bans Protect Nonsmokers' Hearts

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new report is suggesting major health benefits to snuffing out public smoking.

An Institute of Medicine review of 11 key studies of smoking bans in the U.S. and other countries found drops in the number of heart attacks that ranged from 6 to 47 percent. Both actively smoking and breathing others' smoke can damage blood vessels and increase blood clots that cause heart attacks.

The report says there's no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and cited "compelling," if circumstantial, evidence that even less than an hour's exposure may be enough to push a person at risk of a heart attack over the edge.

The IOM committee chair says, "There is no question that smoking bans have a positive health effect."

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have what government health officials call comprehensive statewide laws banning smoking. Some other states have less restrictive laws.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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