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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

Clean Indoor Air

Economic Impacts of Second-Hand Smoke and Lung Disease

[amazon_link asins=’B01EVMK0H0′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’nevadatoday-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’19521647-2588-11e8-aeaf-a37e07794db0′]By David Pietrazewski

Good evening, (Mesquite, NV) council members. Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.

My name is David Pietrazewski and I’m here with the Mesquite Citizens for Clean Indoor Air. At the last meeting, we highlighted the economic impacts of heart disease caused by secondhand smoke. Tonight, I want to do the same with lung disease.

Breathing in secondhand smoke is dangerous to the lungs. It can cause lung cancer and worsen lung problems such as asthma and COPD.

All of these health impacts have a price tag. When someone gets sick due to secondhand smoke, they have medical expenses. They miss school and work. This places a huge burden on the taxes and insurance rates that we all pay. There’s also an impact on the economy due to lost productivity.

Consider lung cancer. It’s the deadliest of all cancers in the United States, but also the most preventable. Not smoking, and preventing secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke, could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year.

In 2004, an estimated 2,500 new cases of lung cancer were caused by secondhand smoke. That same year, the nation paid $9.6 billion in direct medical costs due to lung cancer. In 2009, lung cancer killed nearly 160,000 people in the United States.

Consider asthma, one of the leading chronic diseases in the United States. It affects one in 12 adults and nearly 1 in 10 children.

Asthma inflames and narrow a person’s airways and causes wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Exposure to secondhand smoke makes symptoms worse, and can lead to serious attacks that land people in the emergency room, or cause them to miss work or school.

Asthma costs the United States about $3,300 per person each year in medical expenses, missed work days and early deaths.

And consider COPD. This is a group of diseases that restricts airflow and affects a person’s ability to breathe. Many people who get it end up in wheelchairs and on oxygen. Most people who have it smoke, or used to smoke. If you have it, being around secondhand smoke can make symptoms worse and cause dangerous health problems.

In the United States, COPD costs $32 billion in health care costs each year. It costs $3.9 billion in absenteeism and lost productivity, and 16.4 million lost days of work.

Tobacco and secondhand smoke costs us all: Individual taxpayers, businesses and the government. Preventing exposure to secondhand smoke in public areas will save both lives and money. It’s the smart thing to do.

Thank you for your time tonight.


Health Care Costs and Secondhand Smoke

American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology: Asthma Statistics

CDC reports annual financial cost of COPD
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: Tobacco Smoke and Asthma

CDC: Secondhand Smoke Facts

American Academy of Actuaries: Costs associated with secondhand smoke

American Thoracic Society: Lung Cancer


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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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