What is the Connection Between Smoking and Asthma?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 March 2020
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The primary connection between smoking and asthma is that cigarette or cigar smoke is a major trigger of symptoms in those with asthma. Smoking may also put the smoker or those around him or her at higher risk of developing asthma and other lung conditions. Secondhand smoke not only fills the lungs with dangerous chemicals and other substances like tar, but it also damages the small sacs found in the lungs which are used to filter out dust, mold, allergens, and other compounds from the body.

Asthma is a condition caused by inflammation and restriction of the airways, leading to the lungs not getting the appropriate amount of oxygen. Smoking and asthma are a dangerous combination for this reason because smoke inhalation, either firsthand or secondhand, causes the lungs to lose even more precious oxygen. Being around smoke or attempting to smoke a cigarette can cause an asthma attack. The amount of smoke which can be tolerated without having issues differs for each individual, with some being very sensitive to even the smallest amount.


Another link between smoking and asthma is that children of smokers are far more likely to have asthma, and to have more frequent asthma attacks. Studies have also shown that infants born to mothers who smoked during their pregnancies are far more likely to develop asthma in their lifetimes. Even pregnant women with partners who smoke and are exposed secondhand smoke are more likely to have babies who will develop asthma.

Those with asthma are encouraged not to smoke because the substances found in cigarettes can quickly cause the condition to worsen and more frequent asthma attacks may occur. For those already addicted to cigarettes who develop asthma later, there are several methods for quitting that may be useful. These include nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, and electronic cigarettes. Smokers who do not wish to quit or cannot quit due to addiction — but have children — should only smoke outdoors and should never smoke in the car with their children.

Both smoking and asthma may also put a person at higher risk for developing other lung conditions, primarily if asthmatic individuals continue to smoke after diagnosis. With lungs already weakened by asthma, they may be more prone to developing conditions like emphysema or certain types of lung cancer. They may also be more likely to die or have serious consequences from an asthma attack than sufferers who do not smoke.


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Post 3

I have asthma. Many things can actually trigger an asthma attack for me but tobacco smoke is on top of the list. If I even walk by someone smoking, I cough for a while. If I were to be stuck in a room with people smoking, I'd surely have a very serious asthma attack within a minute.

I sometimes ask smokers to put their cigarette out. I tell them I have asthma but sometimes people aren't understanding about it. Some people act like I have a say over my asthma.

Post 2

@SteamLouis-- Smoking during pregnancy has many dangers. The child developing asthma is just one of the risks but an important one. My doctor says that allergic asthma is most commonly seen in children. And I think you may be right that the pregnancy stage may have something to do with that.

My daughter in law is pregnant right now. She has been a chain smoker for many years. My son has asked her to quit many times. She tried but was never successful. Now that she's pregnant, my son says that she stopped smoking. I sure hope so. I hope she's not giving in to cravings and smoking in secret.

I think that most mothers are aware of the risks of smoking and will resist the cravings for their baby. During pregnancy, one is responsible for not just one life but two. I hope all to-be-mothers take me seriously and give up this bad habit as soon as possible.

Post 1

The study about the children of pregnant women who smoked being more likely to suffer from asthma is very interesting. I had read a few months ago that asthma is believed to be partly hereditary. There are also studies done on same egg twins who both suffer from asthma.

I wonder to what extent the smoking of the mother plays into this genetic factor? Perhaps asthma is not genetic but related to the behavior of the mother and her exposure to various allergens during pregnancy.

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