The Economic Burden of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke for Child and Adult Never Smokers Residing in U.S. Public Housing

May 2015
Public Health Reports;May/Jun2015, Vol. 130 Issue 3, p230
Academic Journal
Objective. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that nonsmokers experience disease and death due to secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in the home. We estimated the total excess burden and costs to society due to SHS exposure in U.S. public housing. Methods. We quantified the public health burden for outcomes causally related to SHS exposure for nationally representative never-smoking residents in U.S. public housing using (1) WHO-recommended health outcomes and methodology, (2) publicly available and other large databases, and (3) published estimates of morbidity and mortality rates. We used published estimates of direct medical and nonmedical care costs and the value of productivity losses to estimate SHS-related societal costs for disease and death. We estimated the public health and economic burden for two serum cotinine limits of detection (LODs): 0.05 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) and 0.015 ng/mL. Results. In 2011, an estimated 37,791 never-smoking child and adult U.S. public housing residents experienced illness and death due to SHS exposure at home based on an LOD50.05 ng/mL (50,967 residents at LOD50.015 ng/mL). Costs incurred by society for these illnesses and deaths totaled $183 million (LOD50.05 ng/mL) and $267 million (LOD50.015 ng/mL) annually. Of the total costs, direct costs (medical and nonmedical) accounted for $128 million and $176 million for LOD50.05 ng/mL and LOD50.015 ng/mL, respectively. Medical care accounted for the majority of direct costs--$110 million at LOD50.05 ng/mL and $153 million at LOD50.015 ng/mL. Adverse respiratory health outcomes accounted for approximately one-half (56% at LOD50.05 ng/mL and 52% at LOD50.015 ng/mL) of total societal costs. Conclusion. Implementing smoke-free policies in all U.S. public housing could save lives and decrease SHS-related morbidity and mortality in never-smoking residents, resulting in annual societal savings of $183 million at LOD50.05 ng/ mL and $267 million at LOD50.015 ng/mL.


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