This fall, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released “Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence”, a report on smoke-free air and acute cardiovascular events. The report finds that smoking bans are effective at reducing the risk of heart attacks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke, and further substantiates evidence that relatively brief exposure to secondhand smoke could lead to a heart attack.
The report, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also suggests the strength of association between secondhand smoke and acute coronary events is compelling and provides evidence showing a cause-and-effect relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and heart problems.
The findings also confirm data from the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General report on the consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke that stated there “is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.” Nearly 440,000 Americans die each year of smoking-related illnesses and about 38,000 of these deaths are from second-hand smoke. About 35 percent of those deaths are related to cardiovascular disease.
In conjunction with the release of the IOM report, we have updated our policy position statement on clean indoor air, and AHA CEO Nancy Brown has released a video detailing that position.