Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States, close to half of adults over 40 who have been diagnosed with asthma or COPD still continue to smoke – a leading cause of the disease – according to federal health officials. The findings highlight the difficulty in quitting smoking even for those whose condition is exacerbated by the habit.
The statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Survey for the years 2007-2012, which found “46 percent of adults aged 40 to 79 who had a lung-obstructing illness currently smoked. That number rose to 55 percent when the researchers looked only at cases involving ‘moderate or worse’ disease”. The researchers also noted that “rates of smoking for people with lung obstruction were more than double that of people without such illnesses -- about 20 percent.”
So why would people with an illness predominately caused and made worse by smoking continue to engage in the habit?
Researchers concluded that depression and anxiety, which is associated with about 40 percent of COPD patients, make it difficult to comply with necessary steps for quitting smoking.
Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. suggests treating the depression before attempting to treat the habit. Folan added, “empathetic counseling, motivational interviewing, and ongoing support from professionals, family and friends” are other ways to help to treat and encourage quitting smoking, lessening exacerbations.