Smoking, Heart Attacks and Helena, Montana

In Helena, Montana, the voters went for a smoking ban in ‘public places’. This eight month ban reportedly resulted in a decline in hospitalizations for heart attacks from 7/month to 3/month. The physicians who presented this to the American College of Cardiology were apparently big proponents of the ban, which was put on hold due to a legal challenge in December, when there was a ‘possible spike’ back to normal.

Now, I’m not a statistician but I know crap when I see it. There is no reported control for out of hospital deaths, and nobody is even making an assertion that the ban changed smoking patterns, just that hospital admissions declined. Phooey on this association and its implications.

This is not to say I’m against smoking bans in restaurants. I like to smell my food, not Pall Malls, and I’d walk a mile to eat in a smoke-free joint, thanks. I will gripe about the nanny society incessantly, but will stop when it comes to smoking. I think the second hand smoke ‘research’ is poor but that’s not my objection. My opinion is that cigarette smoke is an irritant, offensive gas that shouldn’t happen around my food. Want to light up? Fine, wait two minutes after you pay the check and walk outside, light up, and enjoy. But don’t act all offended when the ER doc asks if and how much you smoke when you come in with chest pain.

I support smoking bans, but for purely personal and selfish reasons. Helena, Montana is fortunate to have had a decline in their hospital admissions for MI, but it’s not due to a smoking ban. Heck, they’re probably just dropping dead before they get to the hospital.


  1. I loved moving to California, and the smoking ban was just an extra added bonus.
    It took me awhile, though, to stop saying “table for 2, non-smoking” while in restaurants :-)

  2. gruntdoc says:

    I had the same experience when we moved there; moving back to the smoking world was odd.