High frequency of chronic cough and sputum production with lowered exercise capacity in young smokers

Ann Med. 2010 Oct;42(7):512-20. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2010.505933.


Objectives: The aim was to evaluate how cigarette smoking is associated with respiratory symptoms, fitness, and anthropometric measures in young smokers.

Methods: The prevalence of smoking was investigated in a cohort of young military draftees (n = 1130; 98% between 18–21 years of age) in Northern Finland. The associations of smoking with respiratory symptoms, physical fitness (12-min running test), education, and anthropometric measures were analysed using a self-reported questionnaire with high response rate (80%).

Results: Almost half (46.5%) of the young males were daily smokers, 17.4% being occasional smokers. The prevalence of self-reported chronic cough and sputum production was high in daily smokers (40.7%) and occasional smokers (26.9%) compared to non-smokers (12%). These symptoms were significantly associated with the smoking history. Aerobic fitness was worse in regular smokers compared to non-smokers (P < 0.001). Smokers had a higher body mass index than non-smokers (P = 0.035). In the regular smokers, the more active the subjects were in sports, the less they smoked when evaluated by pack year history (P < 0.001). Smokers had a lower educational level than occasional smokers or, especially, non-smokers (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The frequency of young smokers with chronic cough and sputum production was very high, posing a serious risk to their future health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Bronchitis, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Cough / epidemiology*
  • Cough / etiology*
  • Educational Status
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory System / physiopathology*
  • Self Report
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Sputum / metabolism*
  • Young Adult