COPD and Smoking

COPD and Smoking: How Does Smoking Cause COPD?

copd and smokingSmoking and COPD are closely linked. In fact, while a number of other pollutants and factors can cause the disease, smoking is the leading cause. The more you smoke, the more likely you are to contract COPD.

Air sacs filter oxygen from the air you breathe into your blood. Over time, the chemicals and irritants inhaled in cigarette smoke can cause COPD by stiffening and degrading the walls of the lung’s air sacs. Not only that, but smoking also thickens and inflames the airways in your lungs that lead to these air sacs. The inflammation combines with increased mucous production to obstruct the passage of air through the lungs and reduce the oxygen filtered into your blood.

Learn more about COPD causes and treatment.

In addition to COPD, smoking is associated with a number of other illnesses. Medical research has found that smoking harms nearly every organ in your body, including the heart, lungs and brain. Smoking also has been shown to cause cancer almost anywhere in the body.*

Smoking Cessation and COPD

The most important change you can make to treat COPD: smoking cessation. Get help to stop smoking today.

Quitting your smoking habit is the best way to slow down lung damage caused by smoking. You also should avoid smoke-filled environments, which means not being in the company of others who smoke. Plus, while it may be difficult to do, joining a program and getting support from others may help you quit smoking.

To get help, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free smoking cessation coaching, a free quit smoking plan and more.

Smoking and Oxygen Therapy

There is no cure for COPD. However, oxygen therapy can help people with low oxygen levels lead a fuller life by increasing the amount of oxygen flowing into your lungs, helping you breathe better and giving you more energy.

Oxygen therapy does not mean you can continue smoking. In fact, smoking and oxygen therapy work against each other. Smoking reduces your body’s ability to take in oxygen, to the extent that it can cause COPD. Oxygen therapy attempts to raise the level of oxygen in your body. But don’t delude yourself into thinking you can afford to reduce your oxygen levels a bit by smoking since oxygen therapy increases your oxygen levels.

Smoking cessation is even more important if you manage COPD with oxygen tanks, which can pose a fire hazard. Oxygen fire risk can be lowered by keeping oxygen 5-10 feet away from sources of fire like candles, gas stoves, etc., and by banning smoking in the same room as the oxygen. Learn more about oxygen safety on our blog with “7 Oxygen Safety Tips.”

* Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (

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