Background: Previous studies have shown decreases in cardiovascular mortality following the implementation of comprehensive smoking bans. It is not known whether cerebrovascular or respiratory mortality decreases post-ban. On March 29, 2004, the Republic of Ireland became the first country in the world to implement a national workplace smoking ban. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of this policy on all-cause and cause-specific, non-trauma mortality.
Methods: A time-series epidemiologic assessment was conducted, utilizing Poisson regression to examine weekly age and gender-standardized rates for 215,878 non-trauma deaths in the Irish population, ages ≥35 years. The study period was from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2007, with a post-ban follow-up of 3.75 years. All models were adjusted for time trend, season, influenza, and smoking prevalence.
Results: Following ban implementation, an immediate 13% decrease in all-cause mortality (RR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.76-0.99), a 26% reduction in ischemic heart disease (IHD) (RR: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.63-0.88), a 32% reduction in stroke (RR: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.54-0.85), and a 38% reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (RR: 0.62; 95% CI: 0.46-0.83) mortality was observed. Post-ban reductions in IHD, stroke, and COPD mortalities were seen in ages ≥65 years, but not in ages 35-64 years. COPD mortality reductions were found only in females (RR: 0.47; 95% CI: 0.32-0.70). Post-ban annual trend reductions were not detected for any smoking-related causes of death. Unadjusted estimates indicate that 3,726 (95% CI: 2,305-4,629) smoking-related deaths were likely prevented post-ban. Mortality decreases were primarily due to reductions in passive smoking.
Conclusions: The national Irish smoking ban was associated with immediate reductions in early mortality. Importantly, post-ban risk differences did not change with a longer follow-up period. This study corroborates previous evidence for cardiovascular causes, and is the first to demonstrate reductions in cerebrovascular and respiratory causes.