Little is known about the influence of cigarette smoking on the ability to smell; previous studies on this topic have led to contradictory findings and have failed to take into account smoking dose and duration. In the present study, the 40-odorant University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test was administered to 638 subjects for whom detailed smoking histories were available. Smoking was found to be adversely associated with odor identification ability in a dose-related manner in both current and previous cigarette smokers. Among previous smokers, improvement in olfactory function was related to the time elapsed since the cessation of smoking. Logistic regression analysis found current smokers to be nearly twice as likely to evidence an olfactory deficit than persons who have never smoked. Overall, the data suggest that (1) smoking causes long-term but reversible adverse effects on the ability to smell and (2) the failure of some studies to demonstrate smoking effects may be caused by the inclusion of persons with a history of smoking in the nonsmoking groups.
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