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WYO Secondhand Smoke Foes Point to CO Study

January 12, 2009

Cheyenne, WY – An indoor public place smoking ban in Colorado is being cited as proof that Wyoming should take a serious look at the issue. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of heart attacks three years after Pueblo's ban shows a more-than 40-percent reduction in hospitalized cases.

Cheyenne physician Dr. Eric Wedell says other past studies have shown public smoking bans lead a decrease in heart attacks, and he wants Wyoming to have a similar smoke-free law.

"This same story has been repeated at least nine times that the incidence of acute heart attacks decreases."

The American Cancer Society points to smoke-free laws as the most effective ways to reduce heart attacks, according to Dr. Wedell.

"It's a cost-free, money-saving, life-saving, health-improving measure that's very easy to carry out."

The State of Wyoming prides itself on having minimal government, says Marguerite Herman with Smokefree Wyoming, but with the federal report listing secondhand smoke as a "terrible and under-recognized cause of heart attack deaths," the issue changes.

"Secondhand smoke rises to the level where the legislature needs to get involved to protect people."

Those opposed to indoor smoking bans in public places say, when the bans extend to restaurants and bars, they could hurt business. Proponents argue several studies show business bottom lines are not affected when the law is applied to all businesses.

The study was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY