I was reading this text about "How Is Smoking Bad For Singers" and it says:

While you may feel that smoking helps with performance anxiety, it may damage your vocal cords irrevocably.

And then it does not explain how exactly it damages the vocal cords irrevocably.

It explains about the bad effect on lungs and why the body produces mucus. But nothing about the irrevocable damage.

  • 7
    Generally things that can give you throat cancer is usually ill advised for singers.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 18:02
  • 3
    Death is certainly detrimental to the vocal cords. Nat King Cole was only 45 when he died of lung cancer. Commented May 6, 2014 at 16:48

4 Answers 4


Smoking greatly increases the chance that you will develop vocal nodes, and that the quality of your voice will be permanently changed.

After years of singing, many singers, even those who do not smoke, suffer from permanent, tiny lesions or scar tissue that grow on the vocal cords. These are called vocal nodes, and they make the voice sound rough and weak. They also make singing or speaking painful, and at their worst, they may cause one to lose one's ability to speak or sing altogether for a time. Vocal nodes are the result of wearing out the vocal cords through prolonged straining of the voice by shouting or singing with poor technique. Large vocal nodes require surgery to remove, and vocal rehabilitative therapy for the person to learn to speak and sing properly again after having surgery.

In summary, if you do not smoke, you may develop vocal nodes anyway. But if you smoke, you are much more likely to encounter this serious problem.

Some people can smoke without visibly damaging or changing their voice. On the other hand, there are professional singers who intentionally cultivated the husky, raspy sound that is the result of smoking for years.

Tobacco is highly addictive and its effects on the sound of the voice will be unpredictable for someone starting to smoke. If you discover that smoking is changing the sound of your singing voice, and you do not like how the sound of your voice is changing, it may be difficult to overcome the addiction and stop smoking.

  • 1
    Ref. on studies that indicate the relationship between smoking and nodes?
    – Dave
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 14:28
  1. According to a post at the New York University Medical School answer center, smoking and exposure to smoke irritate and dry the tissues of the throat, particularly the vocal cords. This leads to improper vocal cord vibration and function. Smoking also may promote acid reflux, which can affect the vocal cords. Finally, smoking degrades lung function, which affects the voice by decreasing airflow through the vocal cords.

  2. Smokers are at risk of developing swelling of the area near the vocal cords which control your voice [..]

Via sharecare


Well, Enrico Caruso, a really famous tenor, was a heavy smoker. He repeatedly suffered from vocal cord nodules, showed irregular breathing patterns when his lung activities were recorded and died from peritonitis at age 48.

It's hard to say what net effect the smoking (which was also part of his warmup ritual) might have had on his voice, but it was not likely contributing to his vocal and general health.


As a smoker and singer I've noticed my vocal range has decreased. Though I am not stupid and know that smoking has been the cause, I have come to learn that this raspy and raw sound is what listeners enjoy more these days as it is more of a "real" sound, rather than the auto tuned sound dominating the charts. Even though I hate myself for smoking, and would highly recommend against it, it has benefited my career. Singers like Pink benefit from the raspy sounds caused from smoking but is it really worth it??? I can safely say no. It is not. Stop while you can before you lose your voice altogether, if your talent means anything to you, respect and protect it as you can very easily lose the one thing that means anything to you: music. At 26 and smoking 20 a day, I am well on my way and regret it more than I wish to admit. Act now.

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