Smoking and ALS

Not open for further replies.


Active member
May 30, 2007
My mom is the one diagnosed with ALS. She has been a smoker for the last 50 years. Her husband, the same. They both smoke in the house.
Does anyone have any stats on how smoking affects life expectancy in ALS patients? Just wondering if my mom will suffer respiratory problems more quickly because of years of smoking? I'm hoping this diagnosed will shut down the smoking altogether, but it may be an outlet that her husband needs. I'm sure he'll take it outside.
Hi Ccox,

Don't have any stats but some personal experience. I'm not a smoker but do suffer from sporadic asthma. My breathing is now compromised due to ALS. When I have a mild asthma attack, the affects of both ALS and asthma compound to worsen the overall affect. I suspect smoking is similar. Is your mother's breathing affected due to smoking? I can't imagine after 50 years that it is not. If your mother wants to have the longest unaided breathing possible, I'm sure she would be better off if she stopped smoking.

Forty years ago I smoked a pack a day in university and stopped when I woke up one morning with breathing difficulty.

I agree with John. It would seem that smoking would be a major respiratory issue. But, I would imagine quitting after 50 years would be extremely hard.

I don't know of any stats regarding smoking and life expectancy in ALS, but I believe there have been studies showing that smoking could be the cause of onset of ALS due to toxin build up.

Stopping smoking would probably make her feel better in general. (I used to smoke, so I know from experience.)

On the other hand, if she prefers to smoke and gains pleasure from it, then I would say let her have that pleasure with the time she has left.

Just my thoughts. No offense meant.
No offense taken. I was just wondering if it will hasten her death, or whether she has a shot at the 3-5 year prediction. This is all so new, so much to take in. When my mind is still (vacuuming, mowing the grass, unloading groceries, etc.), it's all I think about.
I doubt she'll quit. She has so many other things she enjoys that will quickly be unreachable. I haven't said anything to her, but I can just hear her anyway..."I'm going to die anyway, why should I quit now!" Mothers---they're so bossy:)
You will get use to the diagnosed and you will wish that your mom could do what she is able to keep something of her "self."

You hit the nail on the head in thinking what your mom's response would be.

I wish you and your mom happiness in this journey.

Hi Carla. My breathing is compromised and smoke either second hand or even toast burning etc really sets up a coughing fit. If your mom could quit or even cut down it would probably help but when my sister in law got lung cancer after smoking 40 years the doc said it would probably cause her more stress to quit than the good it would do to actually quit. You'll just have to play it by ear and see how she does.
I must confess,,i am a smoker. My breathing is a issue now,,but i have no plans on quitting smoking at this time. I too have said WHAts it gonna do kill me? The way i see it,,,,i have given up everything else.
If mom wants to smoke dont stop her,,,,,sometimes smoking is all we have left so just let us enjoy it.

For what it's worth, I agree with Paula. I wouldn't pressure your mom to quit; but if she wants to on her own, that's completely different. I imagine that after smoking for 50 years, the stress from quitting might even take more of a toll than any damage from the smoke.


My husband was diagnosed 3.5 years ago and has smoked 1-2 packs a day for 25 years. He has had 1 heart attack 1 quad bypass 8 years ago. stints 7 years ago and went off all his heart meds after the ALS diagnosed. He will get out of breath if he does to much. I wonder now how much smoke he is actually inhaling. The problem is getting the actually to his mouth because he arms are so weak. He lights it with candle because he has not been able to use a lighter for over a year. My advise is keep it outside less risk of fire, he does drop them a lot and picking them up for him is a feat in itself. We keep a metal bucket on the deck so he can just open his mouth and let it fall in.

I am my husband's caregiver and I have been placing the cigarrette in his mouth since both hands are useless; I don't like doing this because I know it doesn't do him any good to the contrary, but like some of our friends here say I think that if he enjoys it and keeps him calm I cannot take it away from him, but what we have done is after having smoked a pack and a half daily for more than 40 yrs. now he smokes about 10 cigarrettes a day, we are noticing that with the late smoking at night he gets more phlegms so he by himself is not asking for his cigarrette at night.

My son who's is a surgeon doesn't oppose his daddy's wishes.

Husband's Caregiver DX 10/17/05
Baja California, Mexico
I'm not a smoker but I understand it must be really hard to give it up. I think this because I know several folks in recovery from alcohol and if you ask them how long since they've had a drink they will tell you in weeks or months or years. But ask a smoker how ling since her last cigarette and she will say something like: "one year, six months, 22 hours and six minutes." :-D

Ok I exaggerate a little but it is true-smokers seem to have a harder time quitting so I can see where you wouldn't want to add that chore on top of coping with an awful disease. JMO. Cindy
I quit smoking after a 20 yr. habit with the help of Wellbutrin and the Nictine patches. It was relatively painless but I was ready - still don't think I could have done it without the help. Wouldn't want to have to quit now under these circumstances but would need help to continue without setting myself on fire. So..........

Carla - if your mom wants to quit (and she may soon feel bad enough that she wants to), get her help to make it easy. Otherwise, help her smoke so she doesn't set herself on fire trying. Just my opinion.

Not open for further replies.