Less asthma in children since smoking ban

Review of 11 studies reveals numbers fell by one-tenth within 12 months of embargo

A young boy (6-8) uses an asthma inhaler

A young boy (6-8) uses an asthma inhaler


International smoking bans, including the one in Ireland, have led to sharp falls in the numbers of children going to hospital with asthma attacks and the number of babies born before full term.

The review of 11 studies carried out in North America and Europe, including a 2013 study in Ireland, published in the Lancet today, shows that the numbers of both fell by a tenth within 12 months of the bans being introduced.

Meanwhile, the number of children born before full term who are smaller than they should be given the stage at which they are born has declined by 5 per cent, said Dr Jasper Been of the Maastricht University Medical Centre.

A 2010 Scottish study found that paediatric asthma admissions fell by a fifth, while a 2013 English study reported an immediate 9 per cent drop, with a 3 per cent a year fall in admissions afterwards.

An Irish study in 2012 found the smoking rates of mothers fell by 12 per cent in the year after the smoking ban was introduced a decade ago. It also reported that pre-term birth risks had fallen by a quarter.

In Belgium, early birth numbers have fallen 3 per cent a year after a smoking ban in restaurants, followed by a 4 percentage points a year fall after a ban in pubs that sell food.