Have Smoking Bans Caused a Decline in Preterm Births?


The past few decades saw a rise in public smoking bans not only in the US but across Europe. Researchers believe that 16% of the world’s population is now covered by smoke-free laws.

A recent analysis of the effect of smoke-free legislation on child health reveals that these bans have been successful in decreasing rates of preterm births. The analysis, published in The Lancet, gathers together data from 11 studies conducted in North America and Europe and including data from over 2.5 million births.

When it comes to examining the effects of smoking bans, the focus of most studies has been on adults. However, the team involved in this recent analysis argues that children make up about a quarter of all smoke-related deaths and more than half of the healthy years of life lost due to secondhand smoke exposure are children.

The team found that, within a year of smoking bans being enforced, the rates of preterm births were reduced by 10%. Moreover, there was a 5% decline in children being born very small for gestational age.

The benefits of a smoke-free environment on the health of everyone is becoming increasingly clear and evidenced. Hopefully, in light of these findings, the countries that have yet to enforce smoke-free legislation reevaluate their current stance and take additional steps to improve the health of its citizens.

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Posted on in Health News

Written by an OB/GYN with over 25 years experience in adolescent health care in Canada, West Indies, Europe and the US.