Saying No to Tobacco and COPD

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day. Tobacco can be found in a variety of products including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookahs, cigars, or dip. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one hundred million deaths were caused by tobacco in the 20th century, and based on current numbers, there will be an estimated one billion deaths caused by tobacco in the 21st century. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common health complications of tobacco usage. COPD causes airflow blockage in the lungs and leads to breathing-related problems.

COPD Symptoms

Some common symptoms of COPD can include:

  • A cough that lingers for a long time and doesn’t go away completely, or a cough that produces a lot of mucus
  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Chest tightness
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Swelling in ankles, feet, or legs
  • Lack of energy

In earlier stages, warning signs of COPD can be a combination of coughing or wheezing more than normal, gurgling or rattled breathing, more shortness of breath or shallow breathing or rapid breathing, abdominal or chest pain, producing more mucus than normal (usually green, yellow, tan or bloody), skin yellowing or graying, and headaches first thing in the morning.


Complications of COPD can include heart problems, lung cancer, high blood pressure, depression, and even death. Fortunately, COPD can be preventable. Doctors recommend not starting smoking or quitting if you already have, keeping away from secondhand smoke, and getting an annual flu vaccination to reduce your risk of or prevent some infections.

How World Health Organization (WHO) is helping

This year for World No Tobacco Day, WHO has started a campaign to encourage tobacco users to pledge to quit. To help aid individuals with this pledge, they have added several resources on their website to help them reach this goal. A few of these are a Quitting Toolkit, an article titled 100 reasons to quit, and an article over the Benefits of quitting.

How to protect yourself and future generations

The most effective ways to protect yourself from COPD and tobacco complications are by not starting or quitting smoking and staying away from those around you who are smoking. As many as 1 out of 4 Americans with COPD have never smoked cigarettes, which means that your decision to smoke not only affects your health but can affect your friends and loved ones without them even making a choice. So, this World No Tobacco Day, not only take the pledge to quit tobacco for yourself, but for those you care about.

If you’re wanting ways to help out yourself and future generations, even more, looking into clinical trials available for COPD might be right for you. We currently have a COPD clinical study going on for men and women between the ages of 40 and 80. For more information and to get involved, click here to see if you qualify.