Smoking cessation aids in restoring lung function. However, whether long-term cessation can fully restore lung function has not been studied thoroughly, especially in Asian countries. This study aimed to evaluate the association between smoking cessation status and obstructive spirometry pattern among Koreans aged 40–79 years. In total, 6298 men and 8088 women aged 40–79 years from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2015–2019) were analyzed for smoking cessation status, including the duration after quitting. Current-smokers showed a higher likelihood of having an obstructive spirometry pattern than never-smokers among both men (odds ratio [OR]: 3.15, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.32–4.29) and women (OR: 2.60, 95% CI: 1.59–4.23). In men, the effect tended to decrease with longer duration after cessation, but male ex-smokers who had quit smoking ≥ 20 years ago still showed a higher likelihood of having an obstructive spirometry pattern than male never-smokers (OR: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.05–1.89). In female ex-smokers, there was no significant association with the obstructive spirometry pattern, compared to that in female never-smokers. This study emphasizes the benefits of smoking cessation, possibility of long-lasting harm to lung function due to tobacco smoking, and importance of smoking prevention.
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