The number of people admitted to hospital with heart attacks dropped 17 percent after smoking was banned in public places in Scotland in March 2006, authorities said Monday.
The figures compare with an annual reduction of only three percent for the 10 years before the ban was introduced, the Scottish Government said on its website.
Research led by Glasgow University showed there were 3 235 people admitted to hospital with heart attacks in the 10 months before the ban took effect, a government spokeswoman said.
But in the 10 months after the ban was brought in, there were 2 684 admissions for people with heart attacks, she added.
Smoking ban proves effective
The research focused on heart attack admissions to nine hospitals, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of all Scottish hospital heart attack admissions.
The research was presented in Edinburgh where Scotland's Deputy
Chief Medical Officer Peter Donnelly said it showed the smoking ban was already producing "significant" public health benefits.
"It provides evidence that the legislation is improving the health of everyone in Scotland - including smokers, non-smokers, children and bar workers," Donnelly told an audience of international health experts.
"One of the most important findings is the reduction in heart
attacks. We believe that the smoking ban was a large contributory factor to this drop.
Positive effect will continue
"I am confident that we will continue to see the positive effects of the ban in years to come."
Scotland was the first country in the United Kingdom to introduce a smoking ban. Wales, Northern Ireland and England followed this year.
Scotland's public health minister Shona Robinson said such bans were catching on worldwide.
"More and more countries in Europe and across the rest of the world are now following suit by banning smoking in public places and I am proud that Scotland led the way in the UK," Robison said.
"We want to continue the work to make Scotland a smoke-free society and that is why next month, subject to Parliamentary approval, we will be raising the age of cigarette sales from 16 to 18." –(Sapa)
Smoking and your body: a total onslaught