why do they alsways ask this question

does any one else who has bronchiectasis get asked the same old question 'do you smoke have you ever smoked' i went for a my usual yearly check up last week but my consultant was not available and a very nice lady consultant was taking his place that day, she asked a few question then brought up the smoking one, which always makes me see red, i counted to ten then said no. I have had bronchiectasi nearly all my life as they well no, so how can smoking give one bronchiectasi.

45 Replies

  • It's called a "get out clause" - if you are an ex smoker it gets them out of caring or even trying to get to grips.

    You have my full sympathy friendly and I wish you well in the future..

  • All my life pretty much. I have never smoked but in the 50s onwards I have passively smoked every other b's smoke! My con has teased me purposely in the past 'cos he knows it ticks me off!


  • Hi there friendly. Yes after having bronch for 63 years their ignorance is hilarious.

    I look at them, make them wait for about fifteen seconds and then say ' I was diagnosed at three years of age, do I look as though I was the world's youngest smoker!' Given that the condition is such a beggar to live with we would have been masochistic to try to inhale that filth into our lungs at any time anyway. Keep breathing!xx

  • Great to see you back. Hope you had a wonderful time.

    love cx

  • Hi cofdrop. Yes, got back yesterday. I had a lovely time thankyou. There were so many 'chesties' looking for the sun that at one time I felt like a COPD coordinator! lovely to hear from you.xx

  • He he. You just can't get away from it wherever. Did you get a physio group going?


  • yes, much marching around the prom deck and comparing of inhalors. Then lots of coughing when we hit the humidity. Hilarious!

  • I think this is question I have been asked for just about everything.



    Toothache .

    Back pain.

    Knees pains.

    Worsening eye sight.

    Shoulder savered tendon.

    Leg problems.

    9 times out of 10 I say no.

    Why ask someone if they smoke when you can see there figgers are yellow brown..there skin is grey..they stink your office out soon as they come in through the door.....and the box of fags that sticks out in there pocket when they sit down.....

    Have noticed the way they look at you when they ask you that......there's a little message in there eyes...like be good you anit got a leg to stand on.


  • As I find this is something they always and I get bored of it I think its best to answer, "No but if you think it will help I would consider taking it up didn't doctors used to recommend which were the best brands to smoke". That normally stops them in their tracks.

  • That make me chuckle - I am going to use it - brilliant. cx

  • yes i do agree but i dont think they would have advised smoking Woodbines! the man who sat next to me at work chain smoked all day on this brand( going back a few years now) and he would not allow us to open any windows he was my boss, they were happy days even so.

  • Don't you berate Woodbines - hold those in great affection. My Mum smoked them and I used to nick the odd one when she wasn't looking then down to the beach to smoke it! I was only 8!

    Without Woodbines I'd never have ended up on this forum, I'd have had millions in the bank and I'd have spent my latter years wondering what will cause my demise! See, so many benefits from Woodbines!

  • No not woodbines they liked Craven a because they didn't harm your throat or in the US they smoked Luckies and Camel lol It in all our notes so still why ask the question

  • Well I suppose smoking would make any lung condition worse, so that's why they ask. I'm really glad I didn't smoke because I suspect there would be little sympathy for smokers with lung conditions. Not that there's much sympathy there anyway.

  • You're right. If the answer is yes the sympathy, empathy and often the treatment drops to zero.

  • Dead right ! I think if I had been a smoker, I'd be telling them a little poky pie.

  • Why do they ask ....do you smoke or did you smoke ....when you are lined up with others waiting for the annual flu jab. Everybody gets asked in front of everyone else....no reason given...maybe this year I will ask why and be branded a trouble maker as well as an ex smoker.

  • that's disgraceful knitter. Next time just tell them it is irrelevent to the flu and refuse to answer. By doing this they irritate lifelong non smokers and make things worse for those whose condition was brought on by smoking, which they are well aware of and who have struggled to succesfully give it up. It doesn't allow them to move on. A useless question all round.

  • Hi still standing...my health centre has always asked this question year after year...I thought it was normal and everyone was asked it.

    I will ask why this time....you can hear the people close to you answer yes or no.

    At least they do not have one door for smokers and one for non ....

  • How annoying and demeaning! I do get asked that every time I go to the chest clinic (even though they have my notes right there - do they think I've taken it up since my diagnosis?! Or that I've been lying and will finally come clean??!). But I've never been asked when I've gone for my flu jab. That is just wrong - to be asked in front of everyone else! It has nothing to do with the flu jab! I'd just say, "why do you need to know?" and see what happens.

  • Yes stupid when they know you can get COPD without smoking and not all smokers end up with COPD. Smoking is the cause of anything now a days

  • The point about Bronchiectasis is that it IS NOT caused by smoking. It is not connected with the disorders grouped under COPD.


    Bronchiectasis usually starts in childhood. Often by Whooping Cough. However it is rarely diagnosed until later in life as a coincidence of examinations searching for other problems.

    I imagine that this is what the OP had in mind with their post.


  • I must be very lucky. Although I gave up twenty years ago smoking has never been a problem for me with hospital doctor or consultant. My Consultant after being diagnosed with Bronchiectasis as well as emphysema was more interested in what childhood illnesses I had had, which was whooping cough and bronchitis a few times. She then said that the Bronchitis was probably was most likely to be the cause of the Bronchiectasis. She also told me not to look back as that can not be changed but to look to what we can do to improve my condition now.

  • I have had asthma all my life was diagnosed with Bronchiectasis 5 years ago and recently diagnosed with Aspergillosis and yes, all my life they have asked this question. Really annoys me as I find it hard to believe that anyone wi asthma would contemplate smoking but I know asthmatics do smoke. I never had and I am fed up of being asked if I ever had. Just so that you all know now NO! I have never smoked and never even contemplated it. Had enough trouble breathing at times didn't need to add smoking to the mix.

  • I don't have bronchiectasis ....but asthma/COPD...and the next time I am asked that question I will ask why do you need to know......if I dare and am feeling well enough for the challenge!

    Any damage that may have been done has been done....I can't turn back the clock.

    I remember 20 odd years ago sitting in the hospital day room using my nebuliser and sharing the room with nurses who were smoking. I had given up 20 years previously .

    I had whooping cough ,measles and bronchitis as a child too. That's never mentioned .

  • hi, I also have the same Question as you and my answer is just the same as yours.

    I have never smoked.

  • Last time the doctor asked me if I still smoked I said "Yes, but I've cut it down to less than 60 a day now" - funny how the veins on a persons neck can increase in size so quickly! Hehehe

    For those wondering - I haven't smoked for over 4 years

  • well done you y_not for giving up!

  • I get asked this too but it doesn't bother me. I just say no, I've never smoked. Some people with lifelong lung problems do smoke, regardless of their condition. Whether you've ever smoked and if/how long you've given up are relevant questions, it seems to me. Not for a flu jab tho - that's just nosy!

  • Yes nosy nosy nosy. Some people think that just because they are giving you a very minor health service, it puts them in a position to poke into your life.

  • My criterion is "Is this person trying to help me or just being impertinent?" I usually make it clear to doctors I haven't met before (nicely of course) that I won't tolerate being talked down to. Generally, the younger ones are the worst - their ignorance is often boundless yet they dare to patronise anyone over 60. As for nurses...don't get me started :) Glad you enjoyed your holiday.

  • Rather a harsh judgement of doctors, surely...ignorant? Patronising? Impertinent? I usually find them rather helpful and caring. I must be lucky. Nurses often doing their best too...

    I'm grateful someone wants to take up these professions.

  • Tee, allow me to explain. I am not being harsh. It is a fact: the majority of nurses, GPs (&consultants who don't specialise in bronchiectasis/aspergillosis) are woefully ignorant of these conditions, but won't always admit it. I appreciate they are frequently kind& caring, yes, but that's of little use without appropriate medical knowledge.

    I've read some real horror stories on this forum & have experienced very poor treatment from non-specialist clinicians, as well as truly first-class care, eg at RBH. My GP is very supportive, but freely admits to knowing less about bronchiectasis than I do.

    I don't say this lightly; I have 3 friends & a close relative who are dedicated clinicians.

    EMBARC, the newly-formed bronchiectasis registry, recognises it as an "orphan disease" &is committed to promoting education in this condition.

    I don't know how long you've spent in hospital, but if you've never been patronised by a doctor/nurse less than half your age, you're luckier than I.

    My "impertinent" comment was referring to knitter being asked by nurses at a flu clinic about her smoking habit. I just think that's rather intrusive.

  • Hi, Hanne. Unlike you, I don't have bronchiectasis and I smoked like a trouper for many years. However, when it comes to the ignorance and patronising attitude of some doctors we may well have attended at the same surgeries/hospitals. Whilst some are angels and fonts of all knowledge, so many are not and when you have a COPD nurse who reviews your medication by only one criteria, cost, you know you are in trouble!

  • Ive so far been extremely lucky in how I've been treated by pretty much all my healthcare people regarding both copd and bronch (exception being a new and arrogant respiratory technician who insisted that you take the WORST fev1 rather than the best). My consultant is a general lung specialist but has surprised me with his knowledge of bronch which I've recently been diagnosed with.

    BUT without going into details Ive had other consultants who have been unspeakably arrogant and insisted on the wrong diagnoses, and were later proved wrong. So while Im lucky that my lung disease treatment has been brilliant I know full well the difficulties other folk often have in being taken seriously and not patronised and i do think there's something about lung diseases which makes medics especially prone to talking down to patients.

  • I agree with you Hanne and Toci. It's not just about lung disease they talk down to you about as well. I have had some brilliant medical professionals then had others who assume because you are a lay person you are stupid.

    I had the Jobcentre when I was signing on trying to send me on courses to learn to write letter and CV's. Now bearing in mind I have a degree and worked in admin all my life I didn't want or need to go.

    I used to get a sick note for a while. I saw 1 doctor who did give me one but then said I should have gone coz I might have enjoyed it! Oh please.... do I look or act like I am stupid and don't know my own mind at my age? x

  • I always wonder if they ask someone with Cystic Fibrosis ( DO YOU SMOKE?) then make them feel guilty.

    I find myself feeling guilty even though I have never smoked.

    My Mum smoked and f let the NHS gave up on her as she had bought illness on herself.

  • They probably do they ask if you smoke for anything now a days. That's what I have found and not everyone who smokes ends up with lung problems. There are bad and nice medical people I have had both one had me in tears and the junior dr thought it wasn't very nice the was the consultant had spoken to me

  • Hi. I just read the leaflet on Bronchiectasis (link found on here) and it specifically says that it is not caused by smoking. I have downloaded it so I can print it off and wave it under the doctors nose! It was produced in Scotland but I don't know if other regions have produced one. I certainly wasn't given one here in Wales.

  • My Gp says As I gave up in 92 I am classed as a non smoker now :) but do have crap lungs?

  • Well considering the amount of tax smokers have paid (much of which is used to fund the NHS) then perhaps they shouldn't be so quick to pass judgment.

    1 pack of cigarettes - Approx 83% of the price is tax.

    Hand rolling tobacco - Approx 71% of the price is tax.

    Cigars - For some reason only taxed at 48%.


    Whilst we'd all agree that smoking has many negative effects on our health, they don't seem to apply the same reasoning or high levels of taxation to alcohol.

  • I have a f I end who when asked has she ever smoked, replies No but I have had a lung condition since the age of 3yrs, would it have made any difference if I had smoked??

  • I find that question very irritating. I smoked very briefly in the 60s (that was 50 yrs ago), so when asked if I smoked, I never know what to say.

    But it is irritating that people think that because you have a lung disease, that you must be a smoker.

    Years ago, I was coughing and as a result, my voice was raspy, a person said I should stop smoking. I had to also count to 10, before answering her. I told her it wasn't due to smoking, it was due to all the pollution that you and I and everyone else produces. That shut her up.

  • yes its very annoying that people jump to the conclusion that you are a smoker if you have coughing session. because you try and live a normal life people understandingly dont realize you have Bronchiectasis or even know what it is.

  • Now if someone were to assume that I smoke, I would take the oppertunity to tell them about my disease, if nothing else, to keep it short, I would say I have COPD, but a lesser known and more complicated disease, due to Asthma and childhood illnesses.

    Society needs to be more educated on this illness.


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