Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term referring to two lung diseases, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Both conditions cause obstruction of airflow that interferes with normal breathing. Both frequently exist together, so physicians prefer the term COPD. COPD is preventable and treatable. This definition of COPD does not include other obstructive diseases such as asthma, although uncontrolled asthma over a lifetime can result in damage and COPD.

People who live in smoke-free communities are less likely to be hospitalized for emphysema, according to a study by the University of Kentucky.  The study found that people who live in communities with comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws are 22 percent less likely to be hospitalized for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or emphysema. Living in a community with an established law also resulted in a 21 percent lower likelihood of experiencing hospitalization due to emphysema.  Kentucky has the nation's highest rate of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 9.3 percent of the population, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco use is the primary cause of emphysema, but air pollution and genetics can also play a role.

To learn more about symptoms, risks and living with COPD click here.

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