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Smoking in the home and children’s health


Objectives: We estimate for young children the annual excess health service use, healthcare expenditures, and disability bed days for respiratory conditions associated with exposure to smoking in the home in the United States.

Methods: Health service use, healthcare expenditures and disability bed days data come from the 1999 and 2001 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). Reported smoking in the home comes from the linked National Health Interview Survey, from which the MEPS sample is drawn. Multivariate statistical analysis controls for potential confounding factors. The sample is 2759 children aged 0–4.

Results: Smoking in the home is associated with an increase in the probability of emergency department visits for respiratory conditions by five percentage points and the probability of inpatient use for these conditions by three percentage points. There is no relation between indoor smoking by adults and either ambulatory visits or prescription drug expenditures. Overall, indoor smoking is associated with $117 in additional healthcare expenditures for respiratory conditions for each exposed child aged 0–4. Indoor smoking is also associated with an eight percentage point increase in the probability of having a bed day because of respiratory illness for children aged 1–4.

Conclusions: Despite the significant progress made in tobacco control, many children are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their home. Reducing exposure to smoking in the home would probably reduce healthcare expenditures for respiratory conditions and improve children’s health.

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