Research Article| Volume 33, ISSUE 5, P802.e11-802.e16, September 2019

The Effect of Smoking on the Fundamental Frequency of the Speaking Voice



      Little is known about the impact of smoking on voice acoustics. Some studies have found that tobacco affects the fundamental frequency of the voice, whereas others have not. This study aimed to overcome the major methodological limitations observed in previous studies by strictly controlling several variables that could clarify the effect of smoking on the speaking voice.


      Lebanese men were chosen for this study. Thirty nonsmokers, 30 cigarette smokers, and 30 water-pipe smokers were matched on the basis of age, height, and weight. The 90 participants were asked to complete the Voice Handicap Index, sustain the vowel /a/, read 10 sentences in French and Arabic, and speak spontaneously in both languages. The mean fundamental frequency (F0), speaking fundamental frequency (SFF), jitter, and standard deviation of F0 were measured using Praat and Vocalab4 and were compared between the groups.


      The Voice Handicap Index scores differed significantly between nonsmokers and cigarette smokers and between nonsmokers and water-pipe smokers. Results also show that cigarette smokers' F0 and SFF were significantly lower than nonsmokers' results. No significant differences were found between water-pipe smokers and nonsmokers. The jitter and the standard deviation of F0 did not differ significantly between the two groups.


      Our findings clearly demonstrate the effect of smoking on the voice: smokers reported more voice complaints, and cigarette smokers presented lower F0 and SFF in French and in Arabic when age, height, and weight were controlled. Further investigations using similar strict controls over individual variables and additional measures are encouraged to better understand the effect of water-pipe smoking on the voice.

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