According to the study led by Dr. Carl Bartecchi, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, there is a 27% decrease in hospital admissions for heart attacks for city residents in the 18 months after a no-smoking law came into effect in Pueblo, Colorado in 2003.
"Heart attack hospitalizations did not change significantly for residents of surrounding Pueblo County or in the comparison city of Colorado Springs, neither of which have non-smoking ordinances," said the American Heart Association, which published the study in its journal Circulation.
"The decline in the number of heart attack hospitalizations within the first year and a half after the non-smoking ban that was observed in this study is most likely due to a decrease in the effect of secondhand smoke as a triggering factor for heart attacks," it said.
The researchers had considered other factors like air pollution and alterations in preventive care in the community. However, these factors did not influence their findings.
According to the American Heart Association, over 35,000 nonsmokers die every year in America from coronary heart disease due to passive smoking.
The percentage of smokers in the working-class is 22.6 in Pueblo and an average of 18.6, statewide.
"Adopting a non-smoking ordinance has the potential to rapidly improve the cardiovascular health of a community," Bartecchi said in a statement.
In Pueblo, there is a ban on smoking in indoor workplaces and all public buildings, including restaurants, bars and recreational facilities such as bowling alleys.
"You can save lives with drugs and expensive, sophisticated devices, but this single community action led to 108 fewer heart attacks in an 18-month period," Bartecchi said.
"Each hospital admission for a heart attack costs an average of $20,000 here in Pueblo," he said. "So in addition to saving lives, non-smoking ordinances also save a lot of money."