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The Economic Impact of Secondhand Smoke in Maryland

Abstract

This study calculates the economic costs of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) in Maryland – for individuals, employers, and society as a whole. The total costs reported in this study for calendar year 2005 are as follows:

Costs related to childhood illness and death – $73.8 million.

Costs related to adult illness and premature death – $523.8 million.

This study should be considered as an estimate of the lower limit of the true economic costs due to secondhand smoke in Maryland, for the following reasons:

This study documents the costs of specific medical conditions that have been conclusively shown to be causally related to exposure to secondhand smoke. For children, these conditions include Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) bronchiolitis, otitis media, asthma, and burns. For adults, the conditions are lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer, cervical cancer, heart attacks, arteriosclerosis, stroke, and asthma. There are additional potential health problems related to SHS that are not included in this study.

Several categories of costs for medical care are not included – these include outpatient and pharmacy costs, as well as indirect costs related to the opportunity cost of time lost due to illness and medical care. The psychological costs of the negative effects of SHS – pain and suffering – are not included.

Although the costs reported in this study underestimate the true economic costs of secondhand smoke in Maryland, they provide a compelling argument to curtail exposure to secondhand smoke – by limiting smoking in public areas.

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