Tobacco smoke caused about $6 billion in harm to U.S. nonsmokers in 2004.

A researcher at the American Academy of Actuaries, Washington, came up with that estimate for medical and economic costs associated with secondhand smoke in response to a report by the U.S. surgeon general.

In the government report, the surgeon general endorsed the widely held belief that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and heart disease.

Cori Uccello, a senior health fellow at the AAA, came up with the $6 billion cost estimate by adding up the cost of medical care for nonsmokers who suffer from coronary heart disease or lung cancer and have spent long periods of time around secondhand smoke.

Uccello also included economic losses due to lost wages and benefits from the disability or premature death of nonsmokers.