SMOKING AND HEART ATTACKS….CNN has an intriguing article today about a study in Helena, Montana, which suggests that heart attacks in the city decreased after a smoking ban was put in place. Of course, the study has its critics:

Greg Straw, who runs the Montana Nugget Casino….dismissed the idea that the ban was linked to a decline in heart attacks. “I think that absolutely has nothing to do with the smoking ban,” he said.

I’m glad to see that a casino owner is considered an expert in epidemiology.

What’s funny is that the authors admit that because Helena is a small city (population 26,000), the results are only suggestive and need to be replicated on a larger scale before they are taken seriously. They suggest New York City, which recently passed a smoking ban.

But why New York? California has had a statewide indoor smoking ban for years, so there ought to be plenty of data available. And since it’s statewide, you don’t have to worry about the possibility that smokers all just “went outside city limits” to light up.

So how about it, guys? How about a study of the Golden State if you want to back up your claims?

UPDATE: The Angry Bear says that this news is probably too good to be true. A quick look at California data suggests there’s no effect.