Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes extensive disability, primarily among the elderly. On the World Health Organization ranking list of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), COPD rises from the twelfth to the fifth place from 1990 to 2020. The purpose of this study is to single out the impact of changes in demography and in smoking behavior on COPD morbidity, mortality, and health care costs. A dynamic multistate life table model was used to compute projections for the Netherlands. Changes in the size and composition of the population cause COPD prevalence to increase from 21/1,000 in 1994 to 33/1,000 in 2015 for men, and from 10/ 1,000 to 23/1,000 for women. Changes in smoking behavior reduce the projected prevalence to 29/1,000 for men, but increase it to 25/ 1,000 for women. Total life years lost increase more than 60%, and DALYs lost increase 75%. Costs rise 90%; smokers cause approximately 90% of these costs. The model demonstrates the unavoidable increase in the burden of COPD, an increase that is larger for women than for men. The major causes of this increase are past smoking behavior and the aging of the population; changes in smoking behavior will have only a small effect in the nearby future.