PhotoPeople who work in smoke-free workplaces may end up living longer, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic.

Their research, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions this week in Orlando, Fla., shows that the incidence of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths was cut in half among Olmsted County, Minn., residents after a smoke-free ordinance took effect.

Adult smoking dropped 23 percent during the same time frame, as the rates of other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity remained stable or increased.

“This study adds to the observation that smoke-free workplace laws help reduce the chances of having a heart attack, but for the first time we report these laws also reduce the chances of sudden cardiac death,” said Richard Hurt, M.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center. “The study shows that everyone, especially people with known coronary artery disease, should avoid contact with secondhand smoke. They should have no -- literally no -- exposure to secondhand smoke because it is too dangerous to their health.”

Hurt played an instrumental role in the passage of smoke-free ordinances in Olmsted County and the state of Minnesota. He says evidence from this new study will strengthen efforts by the Global Smoke-Free Worksite Challenge, a recently formed tobacco control advocacy collaboration that debuted at a Clinton Global Initiative event. The Challenge will encourage other countries and employers to expand the number of employees able to work in smoke-free environments.

“We are going to use this information to help us convince corporations -- convince countries -- that this is the right thing to do to protect the health of their workers and their citizens,” Hurt said.


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