Smoke-Free workplaces reduce heart attacks: a new study by Mayo Clinic

Press release
Published November 28th, 2011 - 08:51 GMT
King Hussein Cancer Foundation
King Hussein Cancer Foundation

Dr. Feras Hawari, Director of the Cancer Control Office at KHCC and the Regional Director for Global Bridges, commented on a new study released by Mayo Clinic which has amassed additional evidence that secondhand smoke kills and smokefree workplace laws save lives. The study 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.

Dr. Hawari emphasized that this evidence generated by Mayo Clinic should provide enough drive to expedite enforcement of smoke-free environments in public places and work places especially that Jordan was one of the first countries in the area to sign the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Dr. Hawari also added “employees spend about 1/3 of their day at work, so working in a contaminated environment is a true danger to their lives. In addition, and as reported by WHO, 60% of Jordan’s children are continuously exposed to environmental tobacco smoke which negatively affects their physical and mental growth. It is thus imperative that parents become aware of the harms this exposure brings to the health of their children and the importance of a parent’s role in protecting children from such exposure. “

He also added, “This study comes at a critical time for Jordan. As MOH reports show, cardiovascular diseases are the primary cause of death (35%) followed by Cancer (14%). It is also known that 25% of male cancers in Jordan are caused by tobacco. Any delay in enforcing smoke-free legislations will lead to a tsunami of these diseases. For example, reported at 4800 cases in 2009, a study performed by KHCC estimated that in 2025 cancer incidence in Jordan will rise to about 9000 cases.

Dr. Mahmoud Sarhan, CEO and Director General of King Hussein Cancer Center, clarified that “the interest of the Cancer Control Office in such international scientific studies, arises from our commitment to the community and to reducing the incidence of cancer through conducting scientific researches and developing strategic plans that aim to manage the cancer burden in Jordan”. 

Dr. Richard Hurt, Director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center said  “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. 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.” He added “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,”

Dr. Hurt is the principal investigator in this study and the founder of Global Bridges, a healthcare alliance focusing on building capacity among healthcare providers to realize tobacco control and offer proven treatment of tobacco dependence. King Hussein Cancer Center is the regional partner representing Global Bridges in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Dr. 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. “Our findings provide support to the life-saving effect that smoke-free legislation can have among community members affected by these laws,” said co-author Jon Ebbert, M.D., associate director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center.

The population-based study showed that during the 18 months before Olmsted County’s first

smoke-free law for restaurants was passed in 2002, the regional incidence of heart attack was 212 cases per 100,000 residents. In the 18 months following a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in 2007, in which restaurants and workplaces became smoke-free, that rate dropped to 103 per 100,000 residents a decrease of about 45 percent. Additionally, during these two time periods, the incidence of sudden cardiac death fell from 153 to 77 per 100,000 residents a 50 percent reduction.

Background Information

King Hussein Cancer Foundation

The King Hussein Cancer Foundation- Governing Body (The Foundation) is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit institution founded in 2001 by Royal Decree to combat cancer in Jordan and the Middle East region. 

The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees comprised of a dedicated group of prominent volunteers chaired by HRH Princess Ghida Talal.

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