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Smoking Ban Has Reduced Hospital Visits in RI

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


A new study shows that RI's smoking ban is actually saving money along with bettering RIers' health.

A new study from the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) shows that the state's Smoke-Free Public Places and Workplaces Act has directly affected the health of Rhode Islanders, in a positive way. According to the study, Rhode Island hospitalization rates for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as heart attack, and associated costs have been on the decline since the state’s Act took effect in 2005.

Published in the journal of Medicine and Health Rhode Island, “The Impact of Rhode Island’s Statewide Smoke-Free Ordinance on Hospital Admissions and Costs for Acute Myocardial Infarction and Asthma” compares the rates of the two conditions against a control group, hospitalization for appendicitis during a span of time between 2003, before the legislation was passed, and 2009, four years after the ban took effect. The findings reveal a 28.4 percent drop in the rate of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) admissions and a 14.6 percent reduction in total associated cost, representing a potential savings of over six million dollars.

Health benefits and cost savings

“The results contribute to the growing number of studies showing the significant health benefits and cost savings gained by having a statewide ban on indoor smoking in place,” said Director of Health, Michael Fine, MD.

The study focused on adult admissions to Rhode Island’s 11 acute care general hospitals where AMI, asthma, and appendicitis were listed as the principal diagnosis. Patients under the age of 18 and out-of-state residents were excluded. The total reimbursable costs were adjusted for inflation using 2009 as the reference year.

Unlike other studies, however, asthma hospitalizations did not decrease. The rate of patients admitted for the condition increased 19 percent (11.3 percent to 13.5 percent) with related costs rising 55 percent.  The study suggests the severity of the economic crisis in Rhode Island may be amplifying factors associated with asthma exacerbation, such as poverty and poor housing quality.

As anticipated, the hospitalization rate and costs associated with appendicitis remained the same as no known relationship exists between the condition and exposure to secondhand smoke. 

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