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National No Smoking Day: 13th March 2024

No Smoking Day is a UK national campaign to raise awareness about the health impacts associated with smoking. It was initially founded by a charity and first took place on Ash Wednesday in 1984. In 2011, the charity merged with the British Heart Foundation and the campaign now runs annually on the second Wednesday of March.

While smoking is usually associated with causing health conditions such as cancer, lung and cardiovascular disease, did you know that smoking can also impact your hearing….? 

Studies have shown that continued exposure to cigarette smoke (directly or passively) is undoubtedly linked to hearing loss. Research by the University of Manchester discovered that smokers are 15% more likely to suffer from hearing loss later in life. The study included 165,000 adults aged 40 to 69  who took hearing tests between 2007 and 2010 and were made up of smokers and non-smokers. Researchers also found that passive smoking can increase the risk of hearing loss by 28%. 

“Given that around 20% of the UK population smoke and up to 60% in some countries, smoking may represent a significant cause of hearing loss worldwide. We found the more packets you smoke per week and the longer you smoke, the greater the risk you will damage your hearing.” – Dr Piers Dawes, the Centre for Human Communication and Deafness, University of Manchester.

Chemicals found in cigarettes (ammonia, arsenic, benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide) damage nerve endings in the inner ear, which are responsible for sending sound information to the brain. Smoking also affects hearing because nicotine and carbon monoxide can lower blood oxygen levels and constrict blood vessels in the body – including those within the inner ear.

It is believed that toxins found in cigarette smoke can:

  • interfere with neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve (responsible for telling the brain which sound you are hearing)
  • irritate the Eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear 
  • release ‘free radicals’ that can damage DNA and cause disease
  • increase sensitivity to loud noises 

Smoking is also strongly linked to tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo. Several studies concluded that there was “sufficient evidence” that smoking is associated with tinnitus because rates of tinnitus are higher in smokers than non-smokers. Smoking causes tinnitus in the same way as it causes hearing loss (see above).

Smoking is also linked to ear infections, for both adults and children. This is because smoking weakens the immune system and damages tissue in the nose and throat, which also connect to the ears. Children are at a higher risk than adults because their immune system and anatomy are not fully developed. Second-hand smoke can cause health problems in infants and children, such as asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In some cases, middle ear infections in children can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Even in the womb, children are susceptible to the impact of smoking. Children born to mothers who smoke while pregnant are at a higher risk of developing hearing loss, sometimes into their later years as teenagers and beyond.

Smokers often suffer from cardiovascular diseases which are also directly related to incidences of hearing loss.  In the UK, it’s estimated that 11 million people are affected by hearing loss and around 6.9 million people smoke. If current smokers needed further motivation to quit their habit, the impact of hearing loss should be a major factor – it has been found to contribute to mental health issues, isolation, balance problems and an increased risk of developing dementia.  

For advice on how to stop smoking visit the NHS website 

For advice on testing and treatment for hearing loss visit our Hearing Tests web page at  or call 01223 661 399.