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Effect of a single cigarette

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Ok...to get to the point,Im pretty curious about this topic in particulary,and thats effect of cigarettes on vocal chords,and larynx itself.

Today,i woke up,got some coffe,did some vocal exercises and got on to singing(new gigs just around the corner:)) and,im wth,I realise Ive got some new notes(not really,but they have been unusable because of laryngitis for some time),and then i try singing Out on the Tiles (Led Zeppelin),cuz thats one of the songs were currently covering.And then,i find out that I cant get belted nose in a good "order" to sing this songs with such an effect:(.

Then I think "well ok,I havent been singing for some time"(since of laryngitis).Then I try harder and "wake up" the parts I need to use in order to sing the song with such an effect.Its good,but not how it should been,but anyways,not to bore You,I got to singing Dream On by Aerosmith.Now,quite weird;i can belt the notes on that one easily.(that might be due to nasal resonating of Plants voice)Now,I think some time of it,and i feel quite tense at the same time.Then i go make a cup of coffe,and one of my friends come to my house.We try Out on te Tiles again.and while he(guitar) gets it all right,im frustrated cuz of wrong resonating of my voice.Then comes the part when I went for a smoke,and BOOM I can now hit the notes exactly how i want them.So,my friend and I are wondering,how could this be,since cigarettes should (and do) damage voice.Then I realise,for the notes i want to hit,I needed some other effects included,besides vocal chords itself,and since they irritate larynx,I think they might also "awaken" the parts of my voice that I couldnt use this very morning(keep in mind that I have not been singing for a two and a half weeks).So my question would be:

Can some people on here,explain this troughly to me,and by that I mean the effects of a single cigarette on a human voice,not the bad effects on health(I assure You that Im quite aware of them really)

Srry for a long and I imagine,boring posts,but I felt like I need to explain everything in detail


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I know more about this one then Robert lol I'm a smoker 25 years.

first off many old world Opera singers smoked and even chain smoked, cigarettes,cigars,and even snorted snuff. I'n Italy we generally don't chew tabaco. It is turn into a powder and snorted. I do not recommend to non-smokers that they start. It's not the greatest habit. As it relates to singing however each vocalist is different- the body is very adaptable. some people can without a problem some people cannot. It is however a stimulant and vaso dialator(short term) bad for circulation long term. so the stimulant may indeed give someone who smoke very little or a non -smoker who smokes one a temporary quickening of sorts actually expanding the sinus it will irritate the sinus of a non smoker and cause salivation making it easier to cross the passagio although you will wake up dry and congested the next morning as the body will produce nasal drip throughout the night. you will wake with excess mucous (this is what causes that morning smokers cough long term smokers get) ultimately is your technique is sound and your of the breed uneffected you should be able to sing very well regardless even into your old age. If you don't smoke however I do not recommend you start it's a bastard of a habit, becoming socially unacceptable, expensive not worth it. If your a smoker some of us have the habit long term and deeply ingrained and it is part of the regime, you might want to quit for health reasons.

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Your post was not boring in the least. As a smoker of NEARLY 40 years, I've been experiencing the same problem as you. I'm not THAT old, :cool: I just started young. While I was not a heavy smoker for all of those years (I was down to 1/2 pack or less per day in December), I finally decided to quit COMPLETELY on January 1. I've been smoke free for 21 days and intend to stay that way.

But back to your problem, I was very frustrated not being able to "hit" those same notes as before. I though it was "just me" and was trying a variety of new techniques to accommodate. I've been concentrating on proper placement, and discovered it was not my problem. I, too have been running the gamut of illnesses for quite some time now: pneumonia, infections, etc. I'm starting to get better, but am still having some minor problems.

NO WAY will I go back to smoking, though. I believe it's just a matter of time to make "adjustments", and am sure you'll find this to be the same case for you as well.

I happened to check the forum late last night, and noticed James Lugo's post in Vocal Technique > "Those Pesky Vocal Breaks". He suggests arching the back, and dropping the jaw to the floor, etc. I tried it last night, very late, and yes, it solved 90% of my problem. It's only a matter of time, and I WILL be hitting those notes, Harnell, Delp, "style" once again... YES !!!

My suggestion: Quit smoking completely ! You'll be much better off.... I'm definitely with Darrison on this one !

And think of it this way, too. You'll not only be doing yourself a favor, but your LOVED ONE'S as Well....

From personal experience, don't be fooled by the one cigarette "idea"...It's just a matter of time, and you'll find yourself smoking more and more....Been there too many times !

BTW -Many Thanks to You James :cool: And not to leave out Jaime Vendera for talking sense into me back in December - THANK YOU ! :cool:

And not to leave ANYONE out - A Big Thank You to my "Sweetie" for your encouragement !!! Love You :):P:cool:


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Tyvm on these explanations guys:)

And,1st of all congratulations on being smoke free,I know thats quite hard for long-term smokers

And no,I did not smoke that cigarette,just to...well,smoke,just wondered how will it affect my voice in a short term,and it was quite fabulous,really,but back to the topic:)

Some of You might aswell recall difficulties of those belted notes when having problems with some form of vocal damage(in my case,laryngitis),

and,when I couldnt hit them after an hour of practice,I thought to myself "Well,maybe its just me,maybe somehow my voice weakened or I shouldnt be singing yet"

After that cigarette,everything was fine,but i knew I couldnt go along with this for a long time.

The very next morning,I skipped my usual practice,and when I came back later,did some vocal exercise and found out that I again hit those notes,with the exact "effects" I want them.I think this just might be a some kind of "post-damage" thing when you cant really coordinate resonating,and it is really only due to a "some time not singing".

Oh and yeah,coffe doesnt really have a direct effect on your voice,but it kinda "clears your mind" and relaxes you,so that might be just due to not feeling tense while singing ;)

Thanks again :D

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Hi folks -- your friendly medical gal here -- with 3 comments

(1) I'll agree that a single cigarette is not a huge worry. Anxiety or guilt about it will change your muscles more than the short exposure to hot toxins! Heavier smoking does hurt vocal cords over time (basically the body protects itself from the chemicals and heat, by sending more fluid into the middle layers of covering cells. So they get heavier : lower pitch, harder to get very loud, very soft, or nuances in between). When I've scoped heavy smokers over 50, the cords are about triple size & instead of vibrating elegantly they sort of flap like sting-ray fins. They also get stained permanent yellow. Not pretty. And smokers definitely lose air capacity & breath support.

BUT the main reason to give up smoking is for the deeper effects on your health. When I did acute hospital jobs, the people who were there for stroke, heart attack, or emphysema in their late 50s - early 60s were invariably smokers. For nonsmokers (without other risk factors) I'd see those conditions in patents' late 70s. Its a 15-20 year difference, so just think ahead how you want to spend those years. I also TOTALLY get how hard it is to quit; as a drug nicotene is cleverer in the brain than even cocaine. Just saying to heavier smokers: please cut down, quit if/when you can, for your life as well as your voice.

(2) Beyond its wakeup! effect, the cup of coffee probably helped most because of warmth and steam in the throat. Tea or hot water would do as well. But I don't worry my patients about a single cup-o-joe in the AM, unless they have serious acid reflux issues.

(3) If finding a screamin' big/high rock voice takes lengthy warmup, it is very possible that the cords are not getting into BETTER condition during that time, but getting slightly inflamed. Just mechanically: if the edges of the cord are slightly rough to begin with (trace of husky or breathy sound), an hour of slightly pushed (enthusiastic) singing can bruise them just enough to temporarily swell up & make a smoother edge, closer/tighter closure! You feel more in control & get a real good sound right then, which reinforces the belief of having done a good warmup. but over time the cords get even huskier to start with, & you'll be struggling more & more.

I would never judge an individual's technique or practice process without hearing/seeing in person. Just sharing some cautions from my experience with singers who do get into trouble & are mystified about why.

as always, there's more of all this in my book & website, voiceofoyourlife.com.

And please let me know if I ramble on too long or seem redundant/preachy to you experienced pro's, thats not the rep I want in this community!



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