Smoking and pulmonary fibrosis

Smoking is a risk factor for pulmonary fibrosis (PF). If you’re diagnosed with PF, you should stop smoking.

How smoking causes pulmonary fibrosis

Studies suggest that if you’ve ever smoked, you’re more likely to develop pulmonary fibrosis than people who have been non-smokers all their lives.

Tobacco smoke contains around 5,000 chemicals, including tar and nicotine. However, researchers don’t yet understand which chemicals in tobacco smoke are responsible for putting smokers at increased risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis.

Impact of smoking on pulmonary fibrosis

Cigarette smoke can make your lungs inflamed, and increase mucus production.

Smoking can make your pulmonary fibrosis symptoms worse, and increases your risk of lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease. Your medical team will advise you to stop smoking.

5 tips for giving up smoking

1.    Attend an NHS stop smoking service.

Free NHS stop smoking services can increase your changes of quitting. There are both one-to-one and group services in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

2.    Try a stop smoking medication

Medication nicotine replacement (e.g. patches or gum) can help you manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These medications should be used as part of a stop smoking service. You’ll normally be prescribed them for around 12 weeks.

3.    Find something else to do with your hands and mouth

You’ll be less likely to reach for a cigarette if you can keep your hands and mouth busy. Your mobile phone, nicotine gum or lozenges can help reduce cravings.

4.    Change your diet

Some foods and drinks, like meat, wine, coffee and tea, make cigarettes taste more satisfying. Replacing these with water, fruit and vegetables can make smoking less pleasurable. And a healthy diet is good for everyone.

5.    Think positive

Even if you’ve tried giving up before, don’t be disheartened. If you’ve been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, now’s the time to stop smoking successfully. Lots of people manage to quit smoking in the end.

Information provided by Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis (APF) is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It’s intended as general information only. APF is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for any loss or damage suffered by users resulting from the information published on

Further information for carers:

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