I’ve never smoked, and of course, I have no plans to. However, if you smoke and have asthma, you’re certainly not alone. As much as “well, quit!” can roll easily off the tongues of non-smokers—come on, it’s not like you haven’t considered it—we all are aware that it is not as easily done as it is said to quit any addiction. I mean, even scale it back to trying to check your smartphone less frequently—that is a habit, a compulsion even, and there’s not a biological reason for the addiction like there is with smoking cigarettes. So, this isn’t a lecture for smokers: you already know what those labels on the cigarette packages say, and you already know it’s bad for your asthma, and your lungs in general.
As frustrating as the quitting process might be, or as annoying as the people around you might be regarding your smoking habit, here’s the thing: if you smoke and have asthma, you’re not the only one. By far.
Teens with asthma are more likely to smoke per one study, and they’re more likely to start younger.
Yup, you read that right. Not only do teens with asthma know smoking is bad for their asthma control, but it also is not uncommon for kids to start smoking before age 11–seven years or more before they are legally allowed to smoke.1 Like with many adults, knowing the risks is not really enough of a deterrent: 22% of kids with asthma smoked in the study of 3300 teens, where only 12% of non-asthmatic teens smoked cigarettes1. The study also notes that kids and teens who vape (use e-cigarettes) are ten times more likely to smoke later on—vaping is like the “gateway drug”.1 Vaping is, per Asthma UK, safer but still not risk-free.4
It’s not just teens. 21% of people with asthma smoke, compared to 17% of people without asthma.2
Those stats are pretty fitting compared to the statistics about teens with asthma smoking.
Smokers with asthma are 60% more likely to require a visit to the emergency department than non-smokers.
This indicates uncontrolled asthma, which could be considered to be linked to tobacco use.3
Second-hand smoke is almost or just as harmful as smoking first-hand (yourself).
Children who live in houses with people who smoke are more likely to develop asthma, as well as have uncontrolled asthma from exposure to cigarette smoke.5 Prenatal (before birth) and postnatal passive (second-hand) smoke exposure increased risk of wheezing in children by at least 20% (and perhaps 70%)6
The risks of smoking are now common knowledge—but the prevalence of cigarette smoking are fairly surprising, despite that societally, we are well aware of the risks. As a patient, this means to me that we need to do better at targeting asthmatics for inclusion in smoking cessation support programs, as it will ultimately assist in achieving positive long-term results and asthma control.
Do you have asthma and smoke? Or are you regularly exposed to secondhand smoke—or feel your development of asthma may be linked to exposure to tobacco smoke? How do you feel this impacts your asthma? Let’s discuss in the comments!