Smoking And COPD

Cigarettes contain many hazardous substances such as tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and cyanide, which when inhaled causes various life-threatening diseases. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) is one of them. Find out more about smoking and OPCD.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of chronic lung disorders that results from partial damage of the airways and air sacs (structures in the lungs). Because the air passages and air sacs (alveoli) are damaged, air flow to the lungs is blocked. This results in difficulty breathing.

The two main COPD disorders, that cause respiratory failure, are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.


Emphysema is a disease where the walls between the lungs’ air sacs become weak and subsequently collapse. This results in the loss of the lungs’ elasticity.

Chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a disease, wherein, the air passages swell and produce a lot of mucus leading to coughing, wheezing and infections. When a person has cough and mucus on a regular basis (for at least 3 months a year) and in a row (for 2 years), he is considered to be suffering from chronic bronchitis.

Causes of COPD

COPD occurs when a person breath in any of the following irritants:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Chemicals
  • Air pollutants
  • Dust

The lungs and airways of people are highly sensitive to the above irritants. When people inhale the above irritants their airways become inflamed and narrowed. Subsequently the elasticity of the lung is destroyed. This leads to difficulty in breathing in and out.

Symptoms of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease):

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Reduced tolerance to exercise

Smoking related Respiratory Disease Statistics:

The following are the smoking related respiratory disease statistics:

  • Smoking is the major cause of COPD. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of COPD cases are caused due to smoking.
  • According to American Cancer Society, men who smoke have 12 times more probability of dying from COPD. Women who smoke have 13 times more probability of dying from COPD
  • Smoking increases the risk of dying from COPD by 10 times
  • 15 to 20 per cent of long-term smokers have the tendency to develop COPD because long-term tobacco use causes swelling in the lungs and destroys the air passages and the air sacs in the lungs.
  • Secondhand exposure to smoke (smoke in the air from other people smoking cigarettes) also causes COPD.
  • Smoking results in the decline of lung function, increases the risk of lower and upper respiratory tract infections

The respiratory statistics indicate the amount of damage smoking can do to the respiratory system

Treatment of COPD:

Damage from COPD is usually permanent and irreversible. Although COPD is incurable but one can prevent it by quitting smoke. Abstinence from smoking may prevent the progression of the disease. So, if a smoker gives up smoking, there is likelihood that the rate of decline of his lung function will return to normal, over time.

Doctors advise to use inhalers that open up the air passages for the treatment of the COPD.

Lung rehabilitation programs are also recommended for OPCD patients.

For severe OPCD patients lung transplantation is advised.