The disease, which hinders breathing, includes a range of diseases, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Mortality rates were 31 percent higher among those whose parents smoked during their childhood, a study reveals.
It is assumed that second hand smoke gives rise to changes in the lungs and other tissues, decades before the emergence of a disease.
Passive smokers are also more likely to become smokers themselves.
Epidemiologist Dr. Ryan Diver, of the American Cancer Society, said: "This is the first study to identify a link between exposure of children to secondhand smoke and death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in middle age and beyond.
19659005] "The results of this research offer further support for the implementation of smoke-free air laws, smoke-free home policy and clinical interventions to reduce second-hand smoke exposure."
Last month the US introduced a general smoking ban in social housing.  Dr. Diver said that other countries should follow the lead of America and ban smoking in the house
passive smoking as an adult rises health hazards even further.
Those exposed to 10 or more hours per week of secondhand smoke, 42 percent were more likely to die.
Their risk of death from cardiovascular disease, strokes and all other causes were increased by 27 percent, 23 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
About 1.2 million Britons, two percent of the population, have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
It is the second most common lung disease after asthma, the prevalence increases by 27 percent in just a decade. Dr Diver and colleagues compared passive smoking with the number of deaths from heart disease, stroke, COPD and all other causes in 70,900 Americans who had never smoked.
Participants were between 50 and 74 years old when the study began.
questioned about their exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood and as adults and for the next 22 years.
Although the study had only counted the mortality rates, the findings also implied that living with a smoking parent increases the risk of non-fatal COPD.
Children of smokers also have an increased risk of respiratory infections, slower lung development and middle ear diseases.
The findings of the study are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
this week, a study of almost 100,000 women by French scientists linked passive smoking in childhood to a 40 percent increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis later in life.
Smoking kills about 78,000 people in England each year.