If someone with asthma is smoking, it can make their asthma worse by:

  • Increasing asthma symptoms (feel worse, more often)
  • Increasing asthma flare-ups (more severe, more often)
  • Making it harder to obtain good asthma control
  • Reducing the effect of most preventer medications, sometimes meaning higher doses are needed to receive the same asthma benefits as non-smokers

Smoking can cause an irreversible lung condition known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. About 7.5 % of Australians over the age of 40 have COPD (about 1 in 13 people). The combination of asthma and smoking increases the risk of permanent damage to your lungs, reduced lung function and being diagnosed with COPD. Smoking can also cause lung cancer, and many other diseases that can strongly affect your health. 

Smoking is also dangerous for people around you.

Passive smoking occurs when non-smokers breathe in the harmful side-stream smoke of others. There is no safe level of passive smoking.

Children can be severely affected by inhaling second hand-cigarette smoke. Smoking near children can increase their risk of having health problems such as:

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Developing asthma or asthma symptoms
  • Having asthma flare-ups
  • Contracting respiratory infections
  • Having reduced lung function

What about e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes deliver nicotine through a battery powered system. They can also be nicotine free. They are often made to resemble the look of cigarettes or cigars and produce a mist for inhalation. 

There is currently not enough evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes are safe to use, or that they help people to quit smoking. The effects on the lungs and airways are unclear. You should speak to your doctor about evidence-based strategies to help you quit smoking. 

Many inhaled substances can flare-up asthma, causing you to have ongoing symptoms, increase the frequency of symptoms and even cause life-threatening asthma attacks. 

You can get help to quit smoking

Although quitting can be difficult, there are effective treatment options and resource available to help you quit

  • Call the Quitline (13 QUIT or 13 7848). As well as having lots of information available about quitting, you can talk to a counsellor or request a call back.
  • Talk with your doctor and pharmacist on how they can assist with you being a non-smoker
  • Call 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) and speak with an Asthma Educator who can start you on your way to living well with your asthma.

Download our free asthma and smoking resource