Smoking bans tied to lower blood pressure in non-smokers

Non-smokers who live where smoking is banned in public places may have lower blood pressure than non-smokers who aren't protected by these types of laws, a US study suggests.

While smoke-free policies have been associated with fewer hospitalizations for heart disease and a lower risk of heart attacks, less is known about how these laws impact blood pressure, particularly for non-smokers, researchers note in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The researchers examined data on 2,606 adult non-smokers in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study to see if there was a connection between state, county and local smoking bans and participants' blood pressure.

Living in places with smoking bans was associated with lower systolic blood pressure - the "top number" that represents the pressure blood exerts against artery walls when the heart beats. Smoking bans didn't appear to influence diastolic blood pressure - the "bottom number" that represents pressure exerted when the heart is at rest - or the overall risk of developing high blood pressure.