It's been two years since South Dakota's statewide smoking ban went into effect.
Now a new study shows the ban, in part, is reducing the number of hospitalizations due to heart attacks.
According to the study, the number of people hospitalized due to heart attacks is down 6 percent; the American Heart Association says the smoking ban has a lot to do with it.
The study was conducted by the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations. According to their data, from 2009 before the smoking ban began to 2011, there were 98 fewer heart attack hospitalizations—a savings of $4.2 million in healthcare costs.
Supporters of the smoking bans said this study shows the smoking ban did exactly what they hoped it would…providing a safer and healthier environment for South Dakota workers and residents.
Steve Ford, the father of eight children, said when he took his family to bowling alleys in the past, it certainly wasn't as pleasant as his trip to Empire Bowling on Saturday.
"It's been forever since we've been bowling, but I told the boys its really nice not to have the smoke smell when you come in here," said parent Steve Ford.
It doesn't just make for a more pleasant experience at bowling alleys and restaurants; the American Heart Association says second hand smoke is down right dangerous.
"Those chemicals that are in that tobacco and that smoke start to damage your blood vessels and it can create a risk of clots which contributes to a heart attack or stroke," said Mary Michaels with the American Heart Association.
The risk is even greater for people exposed to second hand smoke on a daily basis.
"People in those industries, in those restaurants, those bars and those hospitality industries always saw a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, cancer and some of those diseases because they were exposed to it every day in the workplace," said Michaels.
But today, because of the smoking ban, workers and customers can enjoy a public space safely.
"Families can go bowling again because there's not smoking in the bowling allies. So they can take their kids there and know that they have a safe place to go and have some fun," said Michaels.
"Not having smoking in the building is a huge plus; we never used to come bowling, just because of the smell, even leaving because of the smell," said father of two Doug Townsend.
As a father, Townsend believes it is even more important for his family to live a healthy lifestyle.
"I personally don't smoke and I don't like them being around it at all, so just knowing they're going to be out and healthy helps, you know we're out here to have fun and be active," said Townsend.
That holistic healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent heart attacks. The American Heart Association said avoiding second hand smoke is just one way to reduce the chance of a heart attack; however, eating healthy foods, getting plenty of exercise and monitoring your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose will also help reduce your chance of a heart attack.
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