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Cigarette smoke has been shown to cause gastric cancer. Overexpression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is a common characteristic in gastric malignancy. The present study aimed to explore the correlation between cigarette smoke and COX-2 in the promotion of tumorigenesis in human gastric cancer cells (AGS). We further studied the action of COX-2 on other proto-oncogenes on gastric tumor growth. Results showed that chloroform extract (CE) and ethanol extract (EE) from cigarette smoke dose-dependently stimulated gastric cancer cell proliferation, which was accompanied with an activation of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity, COX-2, and c-myc expressions. Both antisense of c-myc and α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO, specific ODC inhibitor) inhibited cell proliferation without affecting COX-2 expression in response to cigarette smoke extracts (CSE). However, selective COX-2 inhibitor (SC-236) not only blocked the proliferative activity but also the ODC activity and c-myc protein expression by CSE in gastric cancer cells. Further, supplementation of exogenous prostaglandin (PG) E2 reversed all the inhibitory actions of SC-236. Our results underline the importance of COX-2 in the cancer-promoting effect of CSE and its modulation on its downstream growth-related genes, such as c-myc and ODC in cancer cell proliferation. These results reveal that CSE-induced gastric carcinogenesis is via the COX-2/c-myc/ODC and PGE2-dependent pathway. Hence, selective COX-2 inhibitor could be an effective therapeutic agent for gastric cancer in smokers.