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Hoosier Health Burning Hole In State Budget

Last updated on Tuesday, February 3, 2009

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana University researchers say secondhand smoke is costing the state nearly $400-million dollars a year.

A Bowen Research Center study says Indiana spent $282-million dollars in hospitalization costs connected to secondhand smoke. The center estimates another $108-million of lost future earnings from people who died from secondhand smoke.

Former Indiana Commerce Secretary Mickey Maurer says there are more, unknowable costs not included in the study, from businesses turning away from Indiana after estimating health-care costs. He recalls one firm telling him it had conducted a formal study comparing Indiana's likely health-care costs with Ohio's.

The center released its report in advance of a Wednesday hearing in a House committee on a bill to ban smoking in public places statewide. Local bans cover about 30-percent of the population.

The Bowen Center reviewed illnesses and deaths from 13 smoking-related causes, then used guidelines from the surgeon general's report on secondhand smoke and two other studies to determine how many of those cases can be chalked up to secondhand smoke.

IU calculates 1,194 Hoosier deaths due to secondhand smoke in 2007. Nearly 70% of those are deaths from heart disease, but the center also counted deaths from stroke; lung, cervical and sinus cancer; sudden infant death syndrome; asthma; and burns.

The center also tallied hospitalization costs for miscarriage, bronchial and ear infections, and low birth weight babies. The center then multiplied by average hospital costs and estimates of the economic value of life to reach its final figure.

Researchers maintain if anything, their $390-million-dollar figure is low.

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