The smoking ban has saved lives of hundreds of babies in England. The number of still births and babies dying after shortly birth has dropped by 8 percent, says a new study conducted by researchers from Edinburgh University.
Researchers looked at information on more than 10 million births in England between 1995 and 2011.
The findings of the study suggest that almost 1,500 stillbirths and newborn deaths were prevented in the first four years after the law prohibit smoking in public places was enacted on 1 July 2007.
The impact of the smoking ban on the number of babies born with a low birth weight was also assessed.
The study estimated that more than 5,000 fewer babies were born with a low birth weight of less than 2.5 kg.
Smoking and exposure to smoke during pregnancy have long-term adverse effects on the health of unborn children.
Studies have shown that rates of premature births have dropped significantly in countries where smoke-free legislation has been introduced. The number of children being admitted to hospitals for asthma and respiratory infections has also dropped since the bans.
Dr Jasper Been, honorary research fellow at Edinburgh University, said, "Currently only around 18% of the world's population is protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws. Accelerated action to implement smoking bans in the many countries yet to do so is likely to save considerable numbers of young lives and bring a healthier future for our unborn children."
Professor Aziz Sheikh, co-director of the university's Centre for Medical Informatics, said, "This study is further evidence of the potential power of smoke-free legislation to protect present and future generations from the devastating health consequences of smoking and second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke."
The current study was funded by the Thrasher Research Fund and the International Pediatric Research Foundation.
Researchers from Glasgow University, Imperial College London and the Erasmus University Medical Centre and Maastricht University in the Netherlands contributed to the study.
Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in the US also took part in the research, which is published in the journal Scientific Reports.