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World COPD Day... And Why It Matters

World COPD Day... And Why It Matters

Today is World COPD Day, and feels it's important to recognize the occasion. Why? Because COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, claimed the life of Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy in 2015. It was his mission, in his final year or two, to get the word out about COPD and to convince as many people as, pardon the pun, humanly possible to stop smoking.

For anyone not aware of what Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is, the COPD Foundation defines it as follows: "COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness. Many people mistake their increased breathlessness and coughing as a normal part of aging. In the early stages of the disease, you may not notice the symptoms. COPD can develop for years without noticeable shortness of breath. You begin to see the symptoms in the more developed stages of the disease. That’s why it is important that you talk to your doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms. Ask your doctor about taking a spirometry test."

Back in February 2014, about a year before his death, Nimoy appeared on Piers Morgan Live to very publicly address the fact that his COPD resulted from his many years of smoking -- and despite the fact that he quit decades ago. Nimoy acknowledged that he smoked as many as two packs a day in his prime, even joking that he would have qualified for the Olympics of smoking if there were such a thing. "I could smoke in the shower," he stated, noting that during his days in the military, cigarette manufacturers gave soldiers smokes for free, with the U.S. government's implicit blessing. No one thought it was dangerous.

“People were being told smoking is terrific,” Nimoy recalled, specificially citing a 1946 Camel cigarettes advertising campaign that stated “more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” As he simply put it, "It was cool to be able to light a cigarette."

Today, everyone realizes that smoking is dangerous. Still, many people continue to smoke and, for those who do, it's an addiction. “You have to treat it as an addiction and understand that it's not too early to quit," Nimoy told Morgan and viewers. "Young people think, 'Maybe in 10 years I'll quit,' you know?' "The damage is being done right now. Every day you light a cigarette, you're losing cells in your lungs."

Check out the whole segment:

Also, as readers of know, Nimoy's daughter Julie and her husband, David Knight, are producing a documentary titled Remembering Leonard - His Life, Legacy and Battle with COPD. According to the Nimoys, in a post on the documentary's Facebook page, the project is in the last stage of post-production. Go to to learn more about Remembering Leonard, and follow the links there to learn more about COPD.