GHPC researcher finds local smoke-free laws reduce asthma discharges
While state laws show no impact over and above the effect of county laws or of state laws alone, county level smoke-free laws reduce the rate of asthma discharges, according to new research by Dr. Glenn M. Landers, associate project director with the Georgia Health Policy Center in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. His findings will be published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
The study analyzed data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project state impatient databases and the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation Smoke-Free Laws database. These data, capturing information from multiple states both with and without smoke-free laws, were used to estimate changes in asthma discharge rates from hospitals before, during and after implementation of state and local smoke-free laws.
Results indicated an association between implementation of county laws and reductions in adult and child asthma discharges. Other variables such as state smoke-free laws alone showed no similar association with asthma discharges.
“[The] finding does not mean [all] state policy approaches are not effective. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends multifaceted state approaches to reduce the effects of tobacco use and exposure to [secondhand smoke],” the study explains.
“My findings may indicate it is unwise to pursue state smoke-free laws where they have yet to pass. Rather, efforts might be better focused at the local level like DeKalb County’s efforts to pass a smoke-free parks law – where there is evidence of a significant impact,” Landers concludes.
Dr. Landers has been with the Georgia Health Policy Center for more than 14 years and specializes in long-term services and supports, health care reform, and access for the uninsured. His research has also appeared in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved; the Journal of Technology, Theory, and Application; and Community Mental Health Journal. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University, Master of Business Administration and Master of Health Administration degrees from Georgia State University, and a Doctor of Science degree from Tulane University.
The article “The impact of smoke-free laws on asthma discharges: A multistate analysis” is available to online now at: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301697. The print edition will be available in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
The Georgia Health Policy Center in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University provides evidence-based research, program development, and policy guidance for complex issues facing health and health care today. We work locally, statewide, and nationally to improve health at the community level. Visit www.gsu.edu/ghpc to learn more.
The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association (APHA). The Journal is dedicated to original work in research, research methods and program evaluation in the field of public health. This prestigious journal also regularly publishes authoritative editorials and commentaries and serves as a forum for the analysis of health policy.