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  • August 2019 COPD Facts and Tobacco Education Materials Newsletter


COPD Education in a Jar of Phlegm

At Health Edco, we’re known for our creative tobacco education materials and models that highlight the dangers of smoking, encourage smokers to quit, and convince young people not to start smoking or use tobacco in the first place.

Since its debut in 2005, one of our best-selling tobacco education models has been Clem’s Phlegm, a disgusting look at smoker’s phlegm, the mucus that can result from the constant, nagging, wet cough—sometimes called a “smoker’s cough”— that is associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Smokers often worry about dying from lung cancer without realizing the risks of COPD. Such was the case of Leonard Nimoy—the beloved actor best known as Mr. Spock from Star Trek. According to the CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® campaign, Nimoy smoked for 37 years and quit in 1985 after the birth of his first grandchild. Sadly, Nimoy was diagnosed with COPD in 2013 and died from the disease in 2015.

In the United States, smoking accounts for 80 to 90 percent of COPD-related deaths. Clearly, stopping smoking before it starts and getting smokers to quit are the best ways to prevent COPD. Read on to learn more about COPD and how a jar of phlegm can help discourage smoking before it starts, and check out more of our tobacco education resources.

Clem’s Phlegm™ Tobacco Education Model

Clem’s Phlegm is a sealed jar filled with the amount of simulated phlegm that a smoker with COPD would cough up in about 2 weeks. A smoker with COPD can cough up an ounce or more of thick, sticky mucus every day, which adds up to about 2 cups in 2 weeks.

Filled with about 2 weeks’ worth of simulated smoker’s
phlegm, Clem’s Phlegm™ grabs young people’s attention.

Between its brightly colored explanatory label and oozing yellow-green contents, Clem’s Phlegm is a tobacco education model that is sure to grab attention, especially from young people. From young people’s perspective, the model can leave a more powerful impression than simply providing a lesson about the dangers of smoking. To them, COPD may be an “old person’s disease,” something that isn’t even on their radar. But, as they hold the jar of oozing simulated phlegm in their hands, they will be repelled by the thought of regularly coughing up this amount of mucus. The model’s message can be a strong deterrent to stop smoking—and the development of COPD—before lung problems start.

What Is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

COPD includes a group of diseases that obstruct airflow from the lungs and cause breathing problems. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema, two of the most common conditions that make up COPD, damage air sacs and block airways, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms include persistent coughing, increased mucus production, shortness of breath, wheezing, and frequent chest infections, such as colds and flu. People with COPD may feel as though they can’t breathe and be unable to take a deep breath. These symptoms can become increasingly serious and eventually interfere with even the most basic functions, such as taking a walk, doing housework, or even washing and dressing.

Use our Lou-Wheeze™ Smoker’s Comparison Model to demonstrate
how breathing is difficult for lungs damaged by COPD and cancer.

How Serious Is COPD?

COPD is a serious, irreversible condition that has no cure. Once COPD has damaged the lungs, the damage cannot be undone. COPD is a leading cause of death and illness worldwide and causes serious, long-term disability. In the United States, COPD was the third leading cause of death in 2014, and it claims more than 150,000 lives each year.

How Does Smoking Cause COPD?

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Tobacco smoke weakens the lungs’ defenses against infections, narrows air passages, causes swelling in air tubes, and destroys air sacs. Anyone who smokes or has smoked in the past is at risk for getting COPD.

Our Drowned Lung™ Model drives home the reality
of COPD with an audible, hacking smoker’s cough.

How Is COPD Treated?

Although COPD is currently not curable, people diagnosed with COPD can slow the progression of the disease and enjoy a better quality of life with lifestyle changes and recommended treatments. People diagnosed with COPD should quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. They also should take prescribed medications, get recommended vaccinations to avoid lung infections, and talk with their healthcare professionals about pulmonary rehabilitation, which may include breathing techniques and advice on diet and physical activity.

Many patients with COPD must use supplemental oxygen, which may mean having oxygen tanks in the home or taking portable tanks of oxygen wherever they go.

In more severe cases of COPD, surgery to remove diseased portions of the lungs or a lung transplant may be necessary.

Our Cough Up a Lung™ Model depicts a
smoker’s lung damaged by COPD and cancer.

How Can I Lower My Risk for COPD?

If you are a smoker, the single best thing you can do is quit. The more years you smoke and the more packs you smoke, the greater your risk. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do, quit now.

A Word About E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Many young people believe that e-cigarettes provide a risk-free alternative to smoking. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, the addictive drug in all tobacco products. Young people’s developing brains are particularly vulnerable to the addictive effects of nicotine, which can increase their risk for mood disorders and permanent difficulties with impulse control. Young people who vape e-cigarettes also may increase their risk of becoming smokers of regular cigarettes and developing all the health problems associated with smoking, including lung cancer and COPD. The best decision is never to start smoking or vaping.

Our Facts About E-Cigarettes & Vaping Folding Display highlights
the risks of nicotine addiction that can start with e-cigarettes.

Learn More

To learn more about COPD and your individual risk for COPD, talk to your healthcare professional.

Health Edco was founded by Dr. Wayman R. Spence, an early anti-smoking advocate, who created his first anti-smoking product, the Lung Ashtray, in 1968. Today, we are known around the globe for our engaging tobacco education materials, models, and activities. Designed for all ages, our tobacco education resources are ideal to teach about the dangers of tobacco use and the importance of quitting all tobacco products. To learn more about our tobacco education materials, please visit our Tobacco Education Product Section.

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