“The citizens of Helena voted in June 2002 to ban smoking in all public buildings — including restaurants, bars and casinos. Soon after, doctors at the local hospital noticed that heart-attack admissions were dropping. So they, in conjunction with the University of California, San Francisco, did a study to measure the potential short-term effects of a smoking ban.
Helena is a perfect place for such a study: relatively isolated, with enough people in the region (66,000) for a meaningful population sample, and only one cardiac-care hospital within a 60-mile radius. So it was easy to control the study sample and methodology: if you get a heart attack in Helena, there’s only one place to go for treatment.
The study showed two trends. First, there was no change in heart attack rates for patients who lived outside city limits. But for city residents, the rates plummeted by 58 percent in only six months.
‘We know from longer-term studies that the effects of secondhand smoke occur within minutes, and that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with a 30 percent increased risk in heart attack rates,’ says Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine who conducted the study’s statistical analysis. ‘But it was quite stunning to document this large an effect so quickly.’
It was also stunning to witness what happened next. The Montana State Legislature, under pressure from the Montana Tavern Association and tobacco lobbyists, rescinded the ban in December. The result: heart-attack rates bounced back up almost as quickly as they dropped.”
How close is it to murder, to take money from pro-tobacco interests and rescind a ban on smoking in public places, leading to many deaths? How is that different from murder?