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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.[1]

Air sacs in your lungs 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 lungs’ 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 mucus production to obstruct the passage of air through the lungs and reduce the oxygen filtered into your blood.[1]

While it is impossible to say exactly how many years of smoking causes COPD, it is clear that prolonged smoking is associated with a higher likelihood of developing COPD. The longer you smoke, the higher your chances of developing any number of smoking diseases and health problems, including COPD. Moreover, women experience a higher prevalence of COPD than men,[2] regardless of the duration of smoking. Learn more about COPD causes and treatment here.

In addition to COPD, smoking is associated with a number of other illnesses, including shortness of breath, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. 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.[3]


Many people wonder, “Does smoking cause COPD?” While smoking is not solely responsible for COPD, smoking is the leading cause of COPD.[1] Since COPD and smoking are so closely associated, the most important change you can make to treat COPD is smoking cessation. Get help to stop smoking today.

Quitting your smoking habit is the best way to slow down lung damage caused by smoking. When looking at the numbers when it comes to smoking cessation and COPD, former smokers have a lower prevalence of COPD and respiratory symptoms than current smokers.[4] If you want to minimize the effects of your COPD, quitting smoking is your very first step. 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.


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 the lungs, improving breathing and increasing energy.[5]

Beginning 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, damaging your lungs and potentially causing COPD. Oxygen therapy attempts to raise the level of oxygen in your body, but it cannot do so effectively if you continue smoking. Don’t convince yourself that smoking and oxygen therapy will counteract each other; it is simply not true. Smoking can cause irreversible damage, like COPD, and while oxygen therapy treats the symptoms, it does not reverse the tissue damage.[5]

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.[6] Learn more about oxygen safety on website with “Oxygen Tank Safety.”

Managing your Life with COPD

If you have developed COPD as a result of your smoking, Inogen can help. You may need to explore using a number of treatment options, but for COPD resulting from smoking, one likely treatment is oxygen therapy. The Inogen one system uses our portable oxygen concentrator to allow you to receive the benefits of oxygen therapy at home or on the go, all day, every day. Because the Inogen One portable oxygen concentrator travels easily in a pack or on wheels and delivers oxygen-rich air pulled directly from the atmosphere, you can take it with you wherever you go (as long as you have access to a power source or fully charged battery), without needing refills or requiring you to carry heavy oxygen tanks. It can be powered by any AC or DC power source, or via the rechargeable battery, so you can use it at home and on the go.

For many patients who develop COPD, smoking is ultimately the cause, so if you are living with COPD and smoking, now is the time to quit. Smoking cessation and COPD treatment go hand in hand and oxygen therapy will work most effectively after smoking has stopped.[5] Quitting smoking is safest for people using oxygen therapy, and it helps ensure that your Inogen One oxygen therapy can work more effectively for you.

If you’ve developed COPD as a result of your smoking, and have been prescribed supplemental oxygen therapy, the Inogen one system may help improve the way you feel. Studies indicate that supplemental oxygen can help you exercise longer and with greater intensity, and the increased oxygen levels in your bloodstream will help improve your mental alertness, mood, stamina and sleep.[6] Most importantly, if your COPD is impacting your ability to take part in your daily life, the Inogen one system can give you peace of mind to leave the home. Don’t let COPD keep you from participating in your life. Talk to your doctor today about how Inogen may support your active lifestyle.


  1. COPD Causes and Risk Factors | American Lung Association
  2. https://www.lung.org/research/trends-in-lung-disease/copd-trends-brief/copd-prevalence
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm
  4. Smoking duration, respiratory symptoms, and COPD in adults aged ≥45 years with a smoking history – PMC (nih.gov) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4516194/.
  5. COPD – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic
  6. Home Oxygen Safety | ARC Network
  7. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-oxygen-therapy-914838
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