The number of people admitted to hospital for heart attacks dropped by an average of 100 a month since the country introduced the smoking ban in England, research showed Wednesday.

The first study to examine the possible effects of the ban on health in England suggests that there were 1,200 fewer heart attack admissions — a 2.4 percent drop — in the year after it was imposed.

The reduction in emergency admissions saved the National Health Service an estimated $12.1 million and may have prevented almost 200 deaths.

Public health experts said that the findings, published in the British Medical Journal, clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of anti-smoking legislation.

Smoking in public places and work environments was made illegal in England on July 1, 2007.

The ban followed those introduced in the rest of the U.K.

Anna Gilmore, director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, southern England, and the study leader, said, “Given the large number of heart attacks in this country each year, even a relatively small reduction has important public health benefits.”

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