Low birth weight cases fall 5 pct after cafe smoking ban

Premature baby in an incubator (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Thomas Hartwell)Baby in an incubator (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Thomas Hartwell)

The number of babies born with a low birth rate decreased since the smoking ban was introduced in Dutch cafes in 2008. There is also a decrease in the number of babies born extremely preterm, according to a study led by Jasper Been of Erasmus MC, AD repots. 

The researchers looked at over 2 million births in the Netherlands between 2000 and 2011. They focused on two particular dates - 2004 when a smoking ban was implemented in the workplace and 2008 when a smoking ban was implemented in cafes and restaurants.

The researchers found no significant changes following the workplace-smoking-ban. "But after the introduction of smoke-free cafes we saw a reduction in the number of children born with a low birth weight. This decline is about 4 to 5 percent", Been said to the newspaper.

His researchers looked at all relevant factors that could play a part in the decrease, such as the mother's age and origin and concluded that the smoking-ban is the most likely cause of the decline. "Formally, you could say that there was a decline the moment the tobacco policy was introduced that we can explain in no other way", Been said.

The study also discovered a reduction in the number of children born way before their term. There were also decreases in the number of mothers who smoked during pregnancy and the number of people smoking at home. There was, however, no significant change in the number of deaths before birth or deaths shortly after birth, as could be seen in England when the smoking ban was implemented there. "Everything added together, there are positive effects, but less than in countries where the legislation is more stringent", Been said.

ChristenUnie parliamentarian Carla Dik-Faber is calling for a ban on new smoking areas in bars, cafes and restaurants starting next year. Since 2009 the number of smoking areas in cafes increased from one in 10 cafes to one in four. Dik-Faber fints this "worrying", she said to Het Parool.

"Because we know that seeing smoking leads to smoking, the increase in the number of smoking areas is an encouragement to smoke. That's not the way we wanted to go when we made agreements that smoke-free cafes would be the new standard", the MP said.