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Highlights: Smoking Among Adults in the United States: Respiratory Health

  • In 2001, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in more than 118,000 deaths. More than 90% of these deaths were attributed to smoking. (p. 500)
  • According to the American Cancer Society’s second Cancer Prevention Study, female smokers were nearly 13 times as likely to die from COPD as women who had never smoked. Male smokers were nearly 12 times as likely to die from COPD as men who had never smoked. (p. 500)
  • About 10 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is consistently among the top 10 most common chronic health conditions. (p. 499)
  • Smoking is related to chronic coughing and wheezing among adults. (p. 490, 509)
  • Smoking damages airways and alveoli of the lung, eventually leading to COPD. (p. 498)
  • Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have upper and lower respiratory tract infections, perhaps because smoking suppresses immune function. (p. 425, 447)
  • In general, smokers’ lung function declines faster than that of nonsmokers. (p. 482)

Disclaimer: Data and findings provided in the publications on this page reflect the content of this particular Surgeon General's Report. More recent information may exist elsewhere on the Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site (for example, in fact sheets, frequently asked questions, or other materials that are reviewed on a regular basis and updated accordingly).


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