Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD) affects 500,000 people in Portugal, most of whom suffer it due to smoking, the National Laboratory for Respiratory Illnesses (ONER) said in a report Wednesday.
The report was published to coincide with the World COLD Day, whose slogan is "Breathe to Live."
The aim of the day is to beat an illness which brings a great weight of "suffering and social costs," said ONER president Teles de Araujo.
COLD is a chronic disease which limits air flow to the bronchi. At present the largest number of sufferers are men between 35 and 40, but the number of women with the condition is rising as their tobacco consumption increases.
ONER said the disease is the seventh largest cause of death in Portugal, and the mortality is rising at a rate of 2 percent every five years.
It represents 2.5 percent of all deaths in Portugal, smaller than the 3.6-percent rate in other European countries. The death rate is lower as widespread use of tobacco started later in Portugal than in the rest of Europe, said de Araujo.
The World Health Organization (WHO) described COLD as the only chronic disease which will show a rising trend during the next 15 years.
The disease is the sixth largest cause of death worldwide and will become the third largest by 2020 due to the inability of governments to stem the use of tobacco, according to the UN health agency.