The implementation of public health policies related to tobacco smoke legislation may be associated with lower preterm births and rates of adverse health events in children, according to findings from a systematic review published in the Lancet Public Health.
Investigators analyzed a total of 41 studies to determine the effect of the World Health Organization’s recommended tobacco control policies on public health. These policies included providing services for smoking cessation (n=3), introducing tobacco taxation (n=11), and implementing smoke-free legislation (n=35).
In 10 studies that included a total of 27,530,183 individuals, investigators found smoke-free legislation to be associated with reduced rates of preterm birth (–3.77%; 95% CI, –6.37 to –1.16). Smoke-free legislation was also associated with lower rates of pediatric hospital admissions for asthma difficulties in 5 studies (–9·83%; 95% CI, –16.62 to –3.04) and lower hospital admissions for all respiratory tract infections (–3.45%; 95% CI, –4.64 to –2.25).
According to the investigators, associations between smoke-free legislation and lower rates of health-related events were stronger with the implementation of comprehensive smoke-free laws vs partial smoke-free laws.
Investigators showed that a degree of bias was present in studies that evaluated the correlation between smoke-free legislation and preterm birth. In addition, many studies had varying follow-up durations and often failed to evaluate the causal relationship between smoke-associated policies and their impact on public health.
When planning policy changes in tobacco legislation to improve health outcomes of children, the investigators believe the most beneficial effect occurs when “various policies [are] implemented at the highest recommended levels.”
Faber T, Kumar A, Mackenbach JP, et al. Effect of tobacco control policies on perinatal and child health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Public Health. 2017;2(9):e420-e437.