Did the English & Welsh smoking ban prevent thousands of children becoming ill?

A multi-national study has claimed that the smoking ban in England and Wales has been responsible for ensuring 90,000 children have been spared illness since 2007.1

The researchers examined data on more than 1.6 million children who had been admitted to NHS hospitals for serious respiratory problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and laryngitis, between 2001 and 2012. They used this information to calculate that childhood hospital admissions for this kind of problem dropped by 3.5% immediately after the ban, and by 0.5% for every year that followed. Overall, this accounted to around 11,000 fewer admissions of children under 14 each year since the ban was introduced.

The study found the most notable immediate reduction was for lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia, which had dropped by 13.8%.

Although the study did have some limitations, the findings were robust enough to show that it is likely the smoking ban was a contributing factor in the improvement in children's health.

Reference:

1 Been JV, et al. Smoke-free legislation and childhood hospitalisations for respiratory tract infections. European Respiratory Journal. Published May 28 2015

News sources:

Smoking ban hailed for cut in children's illness. The Guardian, May 29 2015

Smoking ban in England 'cuts child hospital admissions'. BBC News, May 29 2015

Thousands of children spared hospital treatment by England's smoking ban. Mirror, May 29 2015

Almost 90,000 children spared illness by smoking ban. Daily Mail, May 29 2015