Blowing Smoke at Babies

Thanks to Senator Brian Crain, a bill that would have given individual cities in Oklahoma the ability to ban indoor smoking was snuffed out, even though House Bill 2267 passed the House. Senator Crain, who is Health and Human Services Chair, killed the bill without giving it a hearing. While Senator Crain is concerned about the rights of smokers, others are concerned about their right to breathe clean air.

Most of us know the harm that secondhand smoke can do, especially to children. But a new study that, ironically, I just read this morning says that smoking bans also reduce the risk of preterm births. Smoking bans are good public health policy, even for children yet to be born. Our legislators are consistently concerned with the unborn, so it would seem like a no-brainer for them to support cities who want to put stronger smoking bans in place than the state law allows.

According to the study done by researchers at Hasselt University in Belgium, and summarized in the Feb. 14 issue of Science Daily, smoke-free legislation in Belgium resulted in a decline in preterm births. Legislation in Belgium was implemented in three phases beginning with public places and workplaces in 2006, restaurants in 2007 and bars serving food in 2010. With each implementation, preterm births declined. According to the study, no decline in preterm births was evident prior to the bans and could not be explained by other factors.

Past research has shown that even babies who are born slightly early are at at greater risk for learning problems and negative health outcomes than full-term babies. Why wouldn’t those who make public policy want to do everything in their power to protect public health, especially for those who are completely dependent on the adults in their lives — infants.

Categories: Editor’s Blog