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Health Concerns

Smoking and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Smoking is the major cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, conditions of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).1,2 Read more about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease...

Facts

The risk of dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and with the number of years smoked.3,4

There were 10,280 deaths from COPD in Canada in 2007.5 Research has shown that in 2002, almost 80% of deaths from COPD were due to smoking.6

About half of people diagnosed with COPD are expected to die within 10 years of being diagnosed.7

These health warning messages address COPD for cigarettes and little cigars:

Just breathing is torture.  CHRONIC BRONCHITIS

What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

COPD, which comprises chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is the most common form of respiratory illness reported by Canadians after asthma.7

Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the main air passages to the lungs, resulting in constant coughing and difficulty breathing. Emphysema is a degenerative disease characterized by the destruction of lung tissue, resulting in shortness of breath.8

COPD symptoms take several years to progress and may lead to heart failure.8

Treatment for COPD includes drugs, oxygen therapy and surgery to assist patients with their breathing.

How does smoking increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

Some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke9,10 irritate the bronchial tubes and kill the cilia, hair-like structures that are essential to the natural filtering/cleaning processes of the lung.11 This impairs the body's ability to clear mucus from the lungs.

In addition, some of the chemicals can damage the bronchial tubes and the tissues of the lungs, leading to increased difficulty breathing over time.10

The benefits of quitting

When people stop smoking, the risk of COPD starts to decrease, and respiratory symptoms, most notably a chronic productive cough, often improve compared to those who continue to smoke.12

Quitting reduces the risk of dying from COPD.11

Quitting is more effective than other measures to avoid the development of respiratory illnesses and other smoking-related diseases.

Need help to quit? Call the pan-Canadian quitline toll-free at 1-866-366-3667.

References

1. Surgeon General. Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989. P.66.

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2004. P.423-510.

3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 1984. P.198.

4. U.S. National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. Tobacco Control research. Smoking and Tobacco Control Monographs. Monograph 9: Cigars: Health Effects and Trends, Ch.4, p.147

5. Statistics Canada. Table 102-0552 - Deaths and mortality rate, by selected grouped causes and sex, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (2007), CANSIM (database). 2011 [updated 2010 Nov 15; cited 2011 Mar 15]. Available from:
Next link will take you to another Web site http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a05?lang=eng&id=1020552.

6. Rehm J, Baliunas D, Brochu S, Fischer B, Gnam W, Patra J, et al. The costs of substance abuse in Canada 2002. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse; 2006.

7. Public Health Agency of Canada. Life and Breath: Respiratory Disease in Canada, 2007. Ottawa. Public Health Agency of Canada.

8. The MERCK Manuals Online Medical Library. The MERCK Manual for Health Care Professionals [www.merckmanuals.com]. 2011 [updated 2010 Jan; cited 2011 Mar 10]. Available from:
Next link will take you to another Web site http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec05/ch049/ch049a.html

9. Rodgman, A., Perfetti, T.A. The chemical components of tobacco and tobacco smoke. (2009). CRC press, Florida, USA. ISBN 978-1-4200-7883-1.

10. Hecht SS. Research Opportunities Related to Establishing Standards for Tobacco Products Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

11. U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation, A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Public Health Service, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010. P59-69, 455-472.

12. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 1990. P.341-349.