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The healthcare costs of secondhand smoke exposure in rural China



The goal of this study was to assess the healthcare costs attributable to secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure among non-smoking adults (age ≥ 19) in rural China.


We analysed data from the 2011 National Rural Household Survey which was conducted among adults in five provinces and one municipality in China (N=12,397). Respondents reported their smoking status, health conditions and healthcare expenditures. Relative risks were obtained from published sources. Healthcare costs included annual outpatient and inpatient hospitalisation expenditures for five SHS-related diseases: asthma, breast cancer (female only), heart disease, lung cancer and tuberculosis. SHS-attributable healthcare costs were estimated using a prevalence-based annual cost approach.


The total healthcare costs of SHS exposure in rural China amounted to $1.2 billion in 2011, including $559 million for outpatient visits and $612.4 million for inpatient hospitalisations. The healthcare costs for women and men were $877.1 million and $294.3 million, respectively. Heart disease was the most costly condition for both women ($701.7 million) and men ($180.6 million). The total healthcare costs of SHS exposure in rural China accounted to 0.3% of China's national healthcare expenditures in 2011. Over one-fifth of the total healthcare costs of SHS exposure in rural China were paid by health insurance. The out-of-pocket expenditures per person accounted for almost half (47%) of their daily income.


The adverse health effects of SHS exposure result in a large economic burden in China. Tobacco control policies that reduce SHS exposure could have an impact on reducing healthcare costs in China.

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