Objectives: We determined the impact of smoke-free municipal public policies on hospitalizations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of hospital discharges with a primary diagnosis of COPD in Kentucky between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2011 using Poisson regression. We compared the hospitalization rates of regions with and without smoke-free laws, adjusting for personal and population covariates, seasonality, secular trends over time, and geographic region.
Results: Controlling for covariates such as sex, age, length of stay, race/ethnicity, education, income, and urban-rural status, among others, we found that those living in a community with a comprehensive smoke-free law or regulation were 22% less likely to experience hospitalizations for COPD than those living in a community with a moderate-weak law or no law. Those living in a community with an established law were 21% less likely to be hospitalized for COPD than those with newer laws or no laws.
Conclusions: Strong smoke-free public policies may provide protection against COPD hospitalizations, particularly after 12 months, with the potential to save lives and decrease health care costs.