The Effect of Tobacco- and Electronic Cigarettes Use on the Olfactory Function in Humans

Dorota Majchrzak, Maria-Christin Ezzo

Electronic cigarettes are a recent development in tobacco harm reduction. They are marketed as a “healthier alternative” to conventional cigarettes but their health impact is unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the odour perception of smokers and vapers (e-cigarette consumers) in comparison to non-smokers.

For the study 181 study participants aged 18 to 46 years were selected and divided into three groups: the control group (n=70 non-smokers; 40 women, 30 men), as well as two investigated groups: smokers (n=66; 32 women, 34 men) and vapers (n=45; 18 women, 27 men). The individuals were evaluated by applying the “Sniffin‘Sticks” odour threshold (T), discrimination (D), and identification (I) test. To assess the olfactory function, the TDI-Score has been calculated.

The results of the threshold test revealed significant differences (p≤0.05) between non-smokers and smokers, as well as smokers and vapers. The results of odour discrimination- and odour identification, as well as the TDI Score showed significant differences (p≤0.05) between all three evaluated groups. Additionally, there was a significant correlation (p≤0.05) between the pack years and the odour threshold, as well as the TDI-Score. The correlation between the pack years and the results of the odour discrimination- and odour identification was not statistically significant. The duration of vaping (years) and amount of liquid (milliter) did not correlate (p>0.05) with the odour threshold, discrimination and identification as well as the TDI-Score.

Generally, the consumption of cigarettes had a negative impact on the olfactory perception. The evaluated smokers were in the range of hyposmia. The good results of the vapers, who have been former smokers, could indicate the regeneration possibilities of the sense of smell after switching from smoking cigarettes to e-cigarettes use. However, further research is necessary to clarify this finding.

Department für Ernährungswissenschaften
ÖFOS 2012
303009 Ernährungswissenschaften
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