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Smoking cessation: effects on symptoms, spirometry and future trends in COPD
  1. N B Pride
  1. Department of Thoracic Medicine, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College School of Medicine, London SW3 6LY, UK
  1. Professor N B Priden.pride{at}ic.ac.uk

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Introductory article

Smoking cessation and lung function in mild-to-moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Lung Health Study

P D Scanlon, J E Connett, L A Waller, M D Altose, W C Bailey, A S Buist

Previous studies of lung function in relation to smoking cessation have not adequately quantified the long-term benefit of smoking cessation, nor established the predictive value of characteristics such as airway hyperresponsiveness. In a prospective randomized clinical trial at 10 North American medical centers, we studied 3926 smokers with mild-to-moderate airway obstruction (3818 with analyzable results; mean age at entry, 48.5 yr; 36% women) randomized to one of two smoking cessation groups or to a nonintervention group. We measured lung function annually for 5 years. Participants who stopped smoking experienced an improvement in FEV1 in the year after quitting (an average of 47 ml or 2%). The subsequent rate of decline in FEV1 among sustained quitters was half the rate among continuing smokers, 31 ± 48 versus 62 ± 55 ml (mean ± SD), comparable to that of never-smokers. Predictors of change in lung function included responsiveness to beta-agonist, baseline FEV1, methacholine reactivity, age, sex, race, and baseline smoking rate. Respiratory symptoms were not predictive of changes in lung function. Smokers with airflow obstruction benefit from quitting despite previous heavy smoking, advanced age, poor baseline lung function, or airway hyperresponsiveness. (Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2000;161(2 Pt 1):381–90)

This review discusses the expected results of sustained quitting smoking on subsequent lung disease, particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), rather than the approaches which health professionals can use to aid an individual to become an ex-smoker. The latter topic was reviewed by Campbell in last year's Thorax Year in Review 1 and updated guidelines have since been published in Thorax.2

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