The numbers of people admitted to hospital with a heart attack has fallen since the the smoking ban was brought in across England, according to a new study.
The study suggested some 1,200 fewer people were admitted to hospital with a heart attack in the first 12 months of the ban.
Researchers believe some 200 deaths may have been been prevented.
It is also thought the 2.4% fall in admissions to A&E saved the NHS around £8.4 million
Experts believe the findings clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the smoking ban.
Each year around 141,000 people in the UK suffer a myocardial infarction, or heart attack. Around a third die, usually before they reach hospital.
The survival rate in hospital is 85%, so within a group of 1,200 admitted patients, around 180 would be expected to die.
Study leader Dr Anna Gilmore, director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, said: “Given the large number of heart attacks in this country each year, even a relatively small reduction has important public health benefits.
“This study provides further evidence of the benefits of smoke-free legislation.”
She added: “Long term, we would expect to see further reductions in heart attacks, based on what we know about the effects of second hand smoke.”
Smoking in public places and work environments was made illegal in England on July 1 2007.