Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An American has a heart attack nearly every 25 seconds, resulting in death about every minute, but those who smoke are not the only ones at risk. Evidence suggests that exposure to secondhand smoke also can result in adverse health effects, including heart disease in nonsmoking adults. To better understand this health threat, the CDC asked the Institute of Medicine to convene a committee to assess the relationship between secondhand-smoke exposure and effects on the heart.
In its 2009 report, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence, the committee concludes that data consistently demonstrates that secondhand-smoke exposure increases the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks and that smoking bans reduce this risk. Given the prevalence of heart attacks, and the resultant deaths, smoking bans can have a substantial impact on public health.