NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Second-hand tobacco smoke is costing the U.S. economy more than $10 billion a year, according to a study released Wednesday, although those costs are significantly lower than they were before programs initiated to limit smoking in workplaces and other public facilities.
The study, sponsored by the Committee on Life Insurance Research and conducted by members of the Society of Actuaries and researchers at Georgia State University,
estimated medical costs associated with second-hand smoke at about $5 billion. It also pegged lost wages at about $4.6 billion, and doesn't include the effect of smoking on children who become ill or die from exposure, which adds considerably more to the tab.
Researchers came to those estimates after a review of previous studies on the health effect of second-hand smoke, known in the insurance industry as environmental tobacco smoke, the report said.
The study points out that these costs are only a fraction of the estimated $150 billion a year in estimated costs of use of tobacco by smokers. And it estimates that the costs of second-hand smoke are down about $5 billion, or roughly a third from where they were 15 years ago.
The research could play a roll in debates about new measures to limit smoking. It also suggests that it could lead insurers to charge higher life insurance rates for those exposed to second-hand smoke, including those who live with smokers or those employed in workplaces that still allow smoking.
For a look at whether cigarette taxes work in cutting down on smoking, click here.