Tuesday 5 September 2017

Did the smoking ban make the number of childhood chest infections plummet?

From The Herald...

Smoking ban sees child chest infections plummet

Really? I may be jaded from years of bitter experience but I suspect that this claim is going to turn out to be bullshit.

Children needing hospital treatment due to chest infections may have dropped by as much as a fifth since anti-smoking laws were introduced, research suggests.

A study led by the University of Edinburgh and the Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands combined data from 41 papers in countries where tobacco control policies have been introduced.

The figures suggest rates of children requiring hospital care for severe chest infections have dropped by more than 18% since bans were introduced.

OK, so it's a meta-analysis and, as the BMJ says, it's looking at admissions for lower respiratory infections.

Hospital admissions of children with lower respiratory tract infections have fallen by 18.5% since the public smoking ban and 9.8% fewer children have attended hospital for severe asthma exacerbations, research published in the Lancet Public Health shows.

The BMJ implies that the findings are specific to Britain whereas they are sourced from various junk studies from various countries, but what applies to one country should apply to all and claims have been made in the past about childhood hospital admissions for lower respiratory infections falling by 13.8 per cent in England after the smoking ban was introduced.

So let's see if it's true shall we? Here's something you can do at home. It's called 'fact checking' and at one time journalists were rumoured to have done it.

Here is the NHS database of hospital admissions.

There you will find 'Emergency admissions for children with lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs)'.

Click on that and you will get a spreadsheet showing the number of admissions in each financial year for the whole of England between 2003/04 and 2015/16. You can also get the standardised ratio figures.

Chart them on a graph and you will see this. Note that the smoking ban started in 2007.

As I suspected, then, it's bullshit.

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