Much of what is known about the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) centers on its ability to mediate the deleterious effects of the environmental toxicant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD; dioxin). However, the AhR is both ubiquitously-expressed and evolutionarily-conserved, suggesting that it evolved for purposes beyond strictly mediating responses to man-made environmental toxicants. There is growing evidence that the AhR is required for the maintenance of health, as it is implicated in physiological processes such as xenobiotic metabolism, organ development and immunity. Dysregulation of AhR expression and activity is also associated with a variety of disease states, particularly those at barrier organs such as the skin, gut and lungs. The lungs are particularly vulnerable to inhaled toxicants such as cigarette smoke. However, the role of the AhR in diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—a respiratory illness caused predominately by cigarette smoking—and lung cancer remains largely unexplored. This review will discuss the growing body of literature that provides evidence that the AhR protects the lungs against the damaging effects of cigarette smoke.