Respiratory Care Settings and Smoking Cessation

At a glance

Smoking cessation improves respiratory health. Health care professionals, particularly those in pulmonary care, should treat patients’ tobacco use and dependence.

respiratory doctor with patient

Smoking causes respiratory diseases

Cigarette smoking has long been linked to adverse effects on the respiratory system. It can cause malignant and nonmalignant diseases, make chronic lung diseases worse, and increase the risk for respiratory infections.

Research shows that smoking causes:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), resulting in about 8 in 10 COPD-related deaths in the United States.
  • Asthma exacerbation in adults.
  • Increased risk of tuberculosis disease and mortality.
  • Respiratory symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, phlegm, and dyspnea.
  • Acute respiratory illness, including pneumonia.
  • Reduced lung function and impaired lung growth in childhood and adolescence.

Additionally, research suggests that smoking may cause idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, recurrent tuberculosis disease, asthma exacerbation in adolescents, and increased incidence of asthma in adolescents and adults.

Secondhand smoke exposure causes respiratory symptoms, impaired lung function, and lower-respiratory illnesses in children. It may also cause respiratory symptoms, COPD, and the incidence of adult-onset asthma.

Smoking and respiratory disease: what health care professionals need to know

Smoking cessation improves lung health

Smoking cessation is one of the most important actions people who smoke can take to improve their health and reduce their risk for COPD. This is true for all people who smoke, regardless of age or smoking duration and intensity. The health benefits also extend to people already diagnosed with COPD.

The respiratory benefits of smoking cessation include:

  • Reduces the risk of developing COPD.
  • Slows the progression of COPD among people with this condition and reduces the loss of lung function over time.
  • Reduces risk of cancers in the respiratory system.
  • Reduces respiratory symptoms such as cough, sputum production, wheezing.
  • Reduces respiratory infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia.
  • Research suggests cessation may improve lung function, reduce symptoms, and improve treatment outcomes among people with asthma.

Clinical interventions to treat tobacco use and dependence among adults‎

Resources for respiratory care teams