European Respiratory Society


The evidence base for the benefit of quitting smoking as regards morbidity and mortality outcomes in patients with moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is limited.

The present article is a review of the existing literature. A systematic literature search in medical databases was performed until March 2006, and subsequently until September 1, 2007. The outcomes examined were COPD-related morbidity and mortality (including all-cause mortality) in COPD patients in connection with smoking cessation.

A total of 21 and 27 published articles on morbidity and mortality, respectively, were identified and reviewed. For both outcomes, only a few of the studies included patients with severe COPD. Most of the studies reported a beneficial effect of smoking cessation compared with continued smoking, whereas a few found no improvement. Methodological problems, including small study sizes, poor data quality, possibility of reverse causality and incomplete ascertainment of cause of death, limit interpretation of some of the studies.

The evidence as a whole supports the conclusion that, even in severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, smoking cessation slows the accelerated rate of lung function decline and improves survival compared with continued smoking.


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