Medical costs of secondhand-smoke exposure in North Carolina.

Marcus Plescia, Daryl Wansink, Hugh R. Waters, Sally Herndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The health hazards of exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) are well-defined. Less is known about the economic costs. We performed an analysis of the medical costs of SHS in North Carolina that was based on a similar study conducted in Minnesota. We used 2006 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina claims data and national and state surveillance data to calculate the treated prevalence of medical conditions that have been found to be related to exposure to SHS, as established by a 2006 report from the US surgeon general. We used the population attributable risk for these conditions to calculate the number of individuals whose episodes of illness could be attributed to exposure to SHS. We adjusted these treatment costs for other types of insurance provided in the state, using Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data. The total annual cost of treatment for conditions related to SHS exposure in North Carolina was estimated to be $293,304,430, in 2009 inflation-adjusted dollars. Sensitivity analysis showed a range of $208.2 million to $386.3 million. The majority of individuals affected were children, but the greatest costs were for cardiovascular conditions. These cost data provide additional rationale for regulating smoking in all work sites and public places.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalNorth Carolina Medical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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