Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a growing healthcare problem that is expected to worsen as the population ages and the worldwide use of tobacco products increases. Smoking cessation is the only effective means of prevention. Clinicians are in a unique position to help patients stop smoking. During the long asymptotic phase, lung function nevertheless continues to decline; therefore, many patients seek medical attention only when they are at advanced stage or when they have experienced an acute exacerbation. To help prevent patients’ quality of life and reduce healthcare cost related to this chronic disease, clinicians need to accurately diagnose the condition and appropriately manage patients through the long course of their illness.