Tobacco smoke-induced accelerated cell senescence has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cell senescence is accompanied by the accumulation of damaged cellular components suggesting that in COPD, inhibition of autophagy may contribute to cell senescence. Here we look at whether autophagy contributes to cigarette smoke extract (CSE) - induced cell senescence of primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC), and further evaluate p62 and ubiquitinated protein levels in lung homogenates from COPD patients. We demonstrate that CSE transiently induces activation of autophagy in HBEC, followed by accelerated cell senescence and concomitant accumulation of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins. Autophagy inhibition further enhanced accumulations of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins, resulting in increased senescence and senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) with interleukin (IL)-8 secretion. Conversely, autophagy activation by Torin1, a mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR inhibitor), suppressed accumulations of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins and inhibits cell senescence. Despite increased baseline activity, autophagy induction in response to CSE was significantly decreased in HBEC from COPD patients. Increased accumulations of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins were detected in lung homogenates from COPD patients. Insufficient autophagic clearance of damaged proteins, including ubiquitinated proteins, is involved in accelerated cell senescence in COPD, suggesting a novel protective role for autophagy in the tobacco smoke-induced senescence-associated lung disease, COPD.