Several studies have demonstrated that smokers who are able to break the habit generally experience reductions in respiratory symptoms and improvement in pulmonary function; however, far less attention has been given to smokers who are unsuccessful in their attempts at quitting. Recent reports have suggested that these subjects (restarters) may have steeper rates of decline in pulmonary function than subjects never attempting to quit smoking. In this study, we compared rates of decline in FEV1 between restarters and subjects who remained current, ex-smokers, or never-smokers throughout the observation period. The results showed that, in both sexes, subjects who attempt to quit the habit and then restart have significantly steeper rates of decline in their FEV1 than subjects who continue smoking uninterrupted. Female restarters also have significantly steeper rates of decline in FEV1 than ex-smokers. These effects were independent of the amount smoked and respiratory diseases.