An estimated 15,000 people die annually in Japan from stroke, lung cancer or other diseases caused by passive smoking, according to a study by a health ministry research team.

Deaths due to stroke account for more than half of the total, the ministry said Monday.

The findings show that 8,010 people will die from stroke, 4,460 from ischemic heart disease and 2,480 people from lung cancer. The study also found a link between second-hand smoke and 70 deaths a year from sudden infant death syndrome.

The data were based on statistics for annual deaths due to factors such as lung cancer, ischemic heart disease and stroke.

Exposure to second-hand smoke in the workplace is projected to take the lives of 4,110 women and 3,680 men, according to the research. Exposure at home will kill an estimated 840 men and 6,320 women.

"The global trend is for regulations to be in place on a nationwide scale to reduce passive smoking," said Kota Katanoda, a senior official of the National Cancer Center. "At the very least, Japan should make its workplaces and public facilities nonsmoking."