Commentary: Smoking bans pay quick health dividends

Kansas and Missouri must pass statewide smoking bans, and the sooner the better.

Bans have immediate positive effects on heart attack rates, with heart attacks falling by at least 17 percent one year after passage and by more than a third after three years.

The idea of statewide bans has been controversial on both sides of the state line. But two new studies on the correlation between smoking in public places and health should squash any lingering doubts.

The studies, one by a research team from the University of Kansas Medical Center and one by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, indicate almost identical beneficial results of smoking bans.

The studies looked at nations and cities around the world that had enacted smoking bans. Previous studies had indicated results were a mixed bag, but these studies noted that when the time frames are consistent, the results are also consistent. In fact, while the Kansas City area was not included in the study, area medical authorities note a decline in heart attack rates since cities began passing their own cigarette bans.

A statewide ban passed the Kansas Senate this year, but efforts died in the House. Gov. Mark Parkinson has said he will push to get a ban passed next session. We wish him well.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Kansas City Star.