Rates of COPD reflect smoking prevalence, harmful effects of secondhand smoke

An NHLBI and CDC study shows a strong geographic correlation between the rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and current smoking prevalence among adults. The findings were published in the June 21 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

This strong correlation was expected, according to the authors, among current and former smokers. However, the geographic and sociodemographic patterns of COPD prevalence were the same for adults who never smoke, which points to secondhand smoke exposure as a potential risk factor for COPD.

According to the authors, population-based strategies for smoking prevention and control, including comprehensive smoke-free policies, have the potential to decrease COPD prevalence, including among nonsmokers. Clinicians should offer cessation support to patients who smoke and consider COPD in symptomatic patients, regardless of smoking history.