10 Facts about Smoking and COPD

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in side effects

Dr. Howell

Smoking has always been linked to the ever-increasing rate of respiratory disease among young and old people. It specifically targets the lungs and at the same time weakens the immune system, leading to a wide range of illnesses. Often, respiratory problems start with symptoms like wheezing and smoker’s cough, followed by chronic bronchitis. If left untreated, this could lead to more serious diseases such as COPD and lung cancer.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common illness that affects thousands of people in America. This disease has many causes, but the leading cause is cigarette smoking.

Below are 10 facts that link COPD with cigarette smoking:


  1. Generally, the lungs of a smoker are weaker and more vulnerable to damage than the lungs of a non-smoker.
  2. According to experts, smoking is the main cause of COPD. If an individual doesn’t smoke, she or he is unlikely to contract the disease.
  3. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease belongs to the top 10 most severe health conditions affecting a large portion of the world’s population.
  4. More than 90% of deaths caused by COPD have been attributed to tobacco use. In 2001, 118,000 people died in the United States due to such disease.
  5. Women who smoke are 13 times more likely to develop COPD than women who don’t smoke. Consequently, men who smoke are 12 times more likely to acquire this disease than gents who don’t smoke. Such data comes from the American Cancer Society.
  6. The toxins contained in tobacco go through the lungs and eventually damage its airways and alveoli. As this happens, the lungs gets weaker and weaker, which in time leads to COPD, cancer, or any other respiratory ailment.
  7. Nearly 10 million people in America were diagnosed of COPD. Some of them had chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
  8. Passive smoking has been shown to increase the risk of COPD. In a cross-sectional analysis of data coming from Health Survey from England, 20 hours of exposure to second-hand smoke per week can significantly increase the risk of COPD among individuals who don’t smoke. The increase rate is 50%.
  9. Female deaths due to COPD have exceeded the mortality rate among smoking men with COPD from year 2000 until today.
  10. Smokers usually suffer from chronic bronchitis first then emphysema before finally developing COPD. The major symptom is the so called ‘smoker’s cough”. Chronic bronchitis results from the inflammation of the bronchi which results from exposure to irritant substances. The inflammation causes the production of mucus (known as phlegm) which is the lung’s defensive mechanism against toxic compounds. Excess phlegm however, blocks the alveoli and the airways, preventing the oxygen from going through the lungs. This is why smokers usually experience shortness of breath and frequent coughing.

Treatment of COPD


The very first and most important thing that patients should do is to quit smoking now. By simply not lighting up, they can expect relief from some of the COPD symptoms in just a couple of hours. They should also see a specialist who will administer necessary treatments depending on the severity of the disease. Lungs have the ability to regenerate. By quitting smoking today, observing balance diet and exercising, sufferers can fight COPD and bring back their life.



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