chapter  3
Pages 18

As a consequence of the declining incidence of tuberculosis in Western countries that took place at the beginning of the last century, increasing attention was paid to other causes of chronic lung diseases. Interest in the epidemiology of chronic respiratory disease was further enforced by the air pollution disasters like that in the Meuse Valley in 1930 and in London in 1952, and in particular in response to the universal spread of the smoking epidemic that took place after the second world war. In this introduction we will give a short overview of the epidemiologic definitions of bronchitis and COPD and the tools and limitations for studying COPD in an epidemiologic setting.