TYLER (KYTX) - Smoking bans in Texas cities are helping lower the number of hospital visits by heart attacks, stroke and lung problems.
That's according to new research.
The doctor works at the UT Health Science Center in Tyler and the study compared rates from 2004 to 2006 in Beaumont and Tyler.
Here's the reason: Beaumont had a smoking ban in that time frame and Tyler didn't.
Numbers from that study just came out, and show a big return on health.
Kerri Clark is enjoying a late lunch with her boys at TGI Friday's in Tyler.
"My oldest son's birthday," says Clark.
A healthy 20-year-old, and she says part of that may be thanks to the city's ban on smoking inside restaurants.
"Your food tastes better, there's not smoke involved, you don't smell that," says Clark.
Dr. Debbie Cherry with UT Health Science Center in Tyler conducted a study between the cities of Beaumont and Tyler, because Beaumont had a smoking ban before Tyler.
The numbers revealed people had less hospitalization in places where smoking had been snuffed out.
"As an ordinary citizen, if you can avoid exposure to second hand smoke, it looks as though you can reduce your risk of heart attack by 25%, reduce risk of stroke by 20% and reduce risk of lung problems by almost one-third," says Dr. Cherry.
About 4 years ago in Tyler, when you sat down at your favorite restaurant, you might have had to combat smoke before you opened the menu and ordered. That's because Texas is one of the last states to have a statewide ban on smoking.
"The public health of Texas could probably be improved if Texas had state-wide smoking ban," says Dr. Cherry.
Dr. Cherry says since the city of Tyler stopped lighting up inside, the numbers should reflect the same here.
"East Texas has higher rates of stroke and heart disease than other parts of the state and one of the reasons is because we use more tobacco," says Dr. Cherry.
A clear reminder for Clark, she's glad to be in a city where she can eat without inhaling smoke, for her and her kids health.
"Makes a cleaner environment," says Clark.
It took about three years get all of this information for the study together.
Dr. Cherry says even though it was known second hand smoke had serious health effects, this shows just how big that could really be.
Dr. Cherry has not performed a similar study on the city of Tyler since the smoking ban went into effect.
That study was published in the lead online journal by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.