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British researchers say there appears to be a link between smoke-free laws and a drop in the number of children hospitalized for asthma attacks. Their study found a 12.3 percent decrease in hospital admissions for childhood asthma attacks in the first year after smoke-free laws were enacted in Britain.

The law prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces, according to Reuters. Before the law went into effect, hospital admissions for children with severe asthma attacks were rising by 2.2 percent annually. Admission rates began to drop immediately after the law went into effect, the article notes. The trend was seen in boys and girls of all ages, in both wealthy and poor neighborhoods, and in urban and rural areas.

This change was equivalent to 6,802 fewer hospital admissions in the first three years after implementation of the smoke-free law, the researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics.

Lead researcher Dr.Christopher Millett of Imperial College London School of Public Health noted in a news release, “There is already evidence that eliminating smoking from public places has resulted in substantial population health benefits in England, and this study shows that those benefits extend to reducing hospital admissions for childhood asthma. Previous studies have also suggested that the smoke-free law changed people’s attitudes about exposing others to second-hand smoke and led more people to abstain from smoking voluntarily at home and in cars. We think that exposing children to less second-hand smoke in these settings probably played in important role in reducing asthma attacks.”

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