A recent study suggests that banning smoking in public places is associated with a reduced risk of preterm birth.  The study has significant health implications, as preterm delivery contributes to a whole host of serious respiratory issues and long-term medical and social implications for the affected infants.  Women who smoke during pregnancy are known to have babies with a shorter gestation and impaired fetal growth.  In addition, medical researchers have long suspected that second hand exposure to smoke may also harm the unborn.

The study was conducted in three phases, and reductions were seen in each of the phases.  Interestingly, there had been no reductions seen in preterm delivery in the study population in the years prior to the ban.  The first phase of the ban was in public places and most work places and resulted in some decline.  More compelling declines in preterm delivery were noted after smoking was banned from restaurants and bars serving food, in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

Although questions remain, the researchers found 6 less preterm deliveries per 1000 after the ban was fully implemented.  This represents an impressive reduction when one weighs the human and medical cost of even slight preterm delivery.

Virginia Buchanan is a shareholder at Levin, Papantonio.  She has served on the Board of Directions of the Florida Bar Foundation and has been Treasurer of ABOTA, Chairperson of the Civil Process Server Grievance Committee and has been a member of the Chief Judge’s Council on Children. She currently is a member of the Women’s Caucus of the Florida Justice Association.