Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) & Smoking

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a preventable and treatable disease. People with COPD have difficulty breathing and getting enough oxygen from their lungs. COPD gets worse over time, and cannot be completely cured. The vast majority of cases are caused by tobacco use or exposure to tobacco smoke.

Smoking, Vaping, and COPD

How does smoking cause COPD?

  • Inhaling tobacco smoke irritates the lungs. Over time, the irritation damages lung tissue. It loses its ability to expand and contract and becomes scarred. This makes it more difficult for the lungs to get oxygen into the bloodstream. This is called emphysema.
  • Half of smokers will eventually develop COPD if they don’t quit.

Smoking is linked
to up to 90% of all
COPD deaths
in the US

Does vaping cause COPD?

Here’s what we know:

  • Vaping harms lung and heart health.
  • Vaping weakens the immune system.
  • The vapor from e-cigarettes decreases the ability of the lungs to respond to infection.
  • COPD patients who vape have worse lung health than those who do not vape.
  • There are some data that show better lung outcomes for COPD patients who only use e-cigarettes compared to those who smoke cigarettes and those who vape and smoke cigarettes.
  • If you’ve used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, you should not go back to smoking.

The Bottom Line About COPD and Smoking

COPD is a chronic condition that primarily attacks the lungs. Not inhaling chemicals of any kind is the best way to protect lung health. There are resources here on EX that can help you quit.

How are others with COPD quitting?

There are many people in our EX Community who have COPD and are all quitting together and helping each other through the quitting process. To make it easy to browse community posts that are relevant to COPD, you can view all community posts with a “COPD” tag here.

How are other smokers with COPD quitting?

  • A new diagnosis of COPD can be really scary, as Linda posted: “Last week I was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia - the dr mentioned that she thinks I have copd. I’m overwhelmed - does that mean I’m going to die? How much time do I have ? …What about cardio ? Will that stop it ? … I’m so anxious idk what to do !” Read all the amazing support Linda got from fellow EX Community members here.
  • Anxiety can make COPD symptoms feel worse, as gail561 wrote about: “I know I will never feel cured of having COPD. I the hard part is the mind tends to get frustrated as I cope with dealing with COPD every day. … Sometimes I wish I could just walk way from all this. But this is my life now. It's not all anxiety but having a chronic illness some days is not an easy road to take.” This post was viewed and responded to dozens of times. Read more of this exchange here.

Quitting smoking and walking has changed how I can breathe. Every crave was worth getting past and through. Craves are curable, COPD not.


What have other EX Community members with COPD found useful when they quit?

Many community members have written about the importance of breathing and exercise for people with COPD.

  • “Quitting smoking and walking has changed how I can breathe. Every crave was worth getting past and through. Craves are curable, COPD not.” Read more here.
  • “This post is for all my new friends with COPD and also these fantastic hints and exercises can help all of us, whether we suffer from COPD or not.” Read more here.
  • "I joined BecomeAnEX Community in 2010. It helped me to know how to quit; set me up for accountability; and most important of all, felt cared for and about and accepted for who I am and my current stage of quitting.” Read more here.

Get Help to Quit Tobacco

How can quitting tobacco impact my COPD or risk of developing COPD?

  • No matter who you are, how long you’ve been smoking, or how bad your COPD is, you benefit from quitting. Quitting smoking at any point, even after COPD has started, can make an incredible difference in your quality of life.
  • Quitting is the only treatment for people with COPD who use tobacco. Oxygen and medications can lessen the severity of symptoms of COPD. But no medication will slow the progression of the disease.

How can I quit if I have COPD?

  • Join BecomeAnEX for your EX Plan, containing everything you need to build confidence, get support, and learn quit tobacco techniques that work for you.