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Effect of Uruguay’s National 100% Smokefree Law on Emergency Visits for Bronchospasm

      Introduction

      Implementation of smokefree laws is followed by drops in hospital admissions for cardiovascular diseases and asthma. The impact of smokefree laws on use of non-hospital medical services has not been assessed. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of Uruguay’s national 100% smokefree legislation on non-hospital emergency care visits, hospitalizations for bronchospasm, and bronchodilator use.

      Methods

      The monthly number of non-hospital emergency care visits and hospitalizations for bronchospasm, as well as monthly puffs of bronchodilators (total and per person), from 3 years prior to the adoption of the 100% smokefree policy on March 1, 2006, through 5 years after the policy were assessed using interrupted time series negative binomial regression. Data analysis was conducted in 2014.

      Results

      The incidence of non-hospital emergency visits for bronchospasm decreased by 15% (incidence rate ratio [IRR]=0.85, 95% CI=0.76, 0.94) following implementation of the law. Hospitalizations for bronchospasm did not change significantly (IRR=0.89, 95% CI=0.66, 1.21). Total monthly puffs of salbutamol and ipratropium administered in the non-hospital emergency setting decreased by 224 (95% CI=–372, –76) and 179 (95% CI=–340, –18.6), respectively, from means of 1,222 and 1,007 before the law.

      Conclusions

      Uruguay’s 100% smokefree law was followed by fewer emergency visits for bronchospasm and less need for treatment, supporting adoption of such policies in low- and middle-income countries to reduce the disease burden and healthcare costs associated with smoking.
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