Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Secondhand Smoke Costs Millions, Harms Workers, Chokes Economic Development

INDIANAPOLIS – A study released today revealed that the economic impact of secondhand smoke costs $47.5 million annually, according to a new economic impact study released today by IU’s Bowen Research Center, and this staggering total inhibits economic growth in Indiana.

“Secondhand smoke results in excess medical costs of $54 per capita for Marion County residents,” said Dr. Terrell Zollinger, Dr.PH, Bowen Research Center, IU School of Medicine. “The burden of these expenses is assumed by businesses, government, and individual citizens.”

The study, presented at a news conference at the Indianapolis City Market, included estimated costs related to ambulatory care, hospital inpatient stays, and loss of life based on hospital discharge data, vital statistics and census data. The results come as the Indianapolis Marion County City-County Council of Indianapolis and Marion County considers a comprehensive smoke free workplace ordinance that would include all workplaces, including bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and membership clubs.

According to Zollinger, the estimated health care costs for 2008 was over $18 million for hospitalization and health care of patients with diseases attributed to secondhand smoke exposure. Additionally, another $29 million was lost due to premature death that can be attributed to secondhand smoke exposure. These costs do not include the health care and loss of life costs of Marion County residents who are smokers.

“The stunning economic costs contained in this report from the Bowen Research Center should be an economic warning signal to our city-county councillors,” said Missy Lewis, Smoke Free Indy Coalition Chair. “Indianapolis needs a comprehensive smoke free workplace law to protect both the health of our workers, and the economic health of our entire community.”

The release of the new Marion County economic report comes on the heels of a new national report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) confirming that secondhand smoke could cause heart attacks and that smoke free laws prevent heart attacks and save lives. The IOM report confirmed that eliminating smoking in all workplaces is an effective way to protect Americans from the health effects of secondhand smoke, particularly heart attacks.

“The costs of secondhand smoke, in addition to its detrimental health impact, should be considered when developing policy recommendations,” Zollinger said. “This makes good business sense because employers bear additional costs for the health insurance premiums used to pay for treatment of disease caused by secondhand smoke and they assume the indirect costs associated with increased sick leave and lost work time.”

The Bowen report further concluded that consumers and society carry a portion of the economic burden of secondhand smoke as well. Consumers assume additional costs with their portion of insurance premiums and any additional coinsurance and/or co-payments associated with the hospitalization, physician and pharmaceutical costs resulting from exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition, businesses pass on their increased costs of health care in higher costs for goods and services to consumers.

Society assumes the cost burden for the uninsured population through the large amount of uncollected hospital revenues. Taxpayers bear the cost of Medicaid benefits for the indigent population and for Medicare clients requiring treatments for secondhand smoke-related diseases.

The report was prepared by the Bowen Research Center, Department of Family Medicine in the IU School of Medicine. The data was compiled using the number of Marion County deaths in 2007 and hospital discharges from 2005 to estimate the number of individuals affected by secondhand smoke. All cost estimates were adjusted to 2008 dollar values.

For more information regarding Smoke Free Indy, visit our website at For additional information regarding the adverse effects of secondhand smoke, visit

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