World COPD Day is an annual global event and is taking place today on 16 November 2016, in order to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death in New Zealand after ischaemic heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. The disease is often undiagnosed, and for this reason at least 200,000 (or 15%) of the New Zealand adult population may be affected. 

Before Pauline Mohi from Christchurch was diagnosed, she describes her symptoms as being “Absolute shortness of breath and constant coughing. I thought the breathlessness was part of growing old. I had also tried every cough medicine in the chemist but none of them worked on my cough.”

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ advises Kiwis particularly over the age of 35 to check in with their lungs on World COPD Day, by using the following checklist. Do you:

Your lung health could be at risk particularly if you:

If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, please speak with your doctor about your symptoms.

COPD is an umbrella term for progressive lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, chronic asthma and emphysema. It means the airways in the lungs are obstructed and lung tissue may be damaged, which causes difficulty breathing. The main cause of COPD in New Zealand is tobacco smoking.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ is a not-for-profit organisation committed to those affected by respiratory illness. Free COPD resources are available at

World COPD Day is organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD).


Additional resources
Check in with your lungs: visual checklist
More information about COPD: resources and fact sheets
Credit for the checklist: Lung Foundation Australia