In July 2015 I smoked my last real cigarette ever.
– Now I’ve always maintained that smoking made my voice, at least to some extent: Before I smoked – in other words when I was a young kid – I couldn’t sing very well at all. I became a teenager and I didn’t naturally get any better, although I’d started smoking… A little around age 9 and as a habit from age 13 onwards.
I trained my voice, and by age 17 I could blast out the pop songs of the day as well as the original artists…
Fast-forward from 1981/2 to 2015: I was still smoking. I gave up for a year age 16, and started again, partly because my voice was harder to control when I didn’t smoke, and partly because I enjoyed smoking anyway. – When I was smoking; a number of tones were like knocked-out on my normal octave, and therefore I didn’t have to worry about my voice straying off the note as much, because there was no semitone-separated note to stray to. – So I hit the note spot on, and tuned my voice for power as well as thrust my voice outwards, which gave it true pop-star quality. Does that make sense to you? ‘Possibly not? – And it did limit me on some keys in some octaves too. (I’ve always had issues with the key of C to some extent, regardless.)
Following that I gave up smoking again from early Summer 2003 – towards the end of the period in my life in which I was rather well off financially: When I was driving my 2.3-litre V6 Volvo estate – until late Summer 2006, when I got so drunk and stoned at a gig on campus in Exeter one night that I actually started smoking again without realising it. It was on a rather unusual night when I was relaxing with a few pernod and blackcurrants, rather than getting down to some hard-geekery. Everyone around me was smoking either tobacco or wacky-backy; so I bummed several cigarettes, forgetting that I’d given up smoking…
(Summer 2006 was so bloody hot that everything was on the verge of smoking anyway, despite the fact that Devon & Cornwall didn’t experience the accompanying drought that affected much of the rest of the UK as badly as most other areas.
I did Stonehenge that year, but although I smoked some very strange things that day too, I didn’t manage to forget anything at that event.)
In 2014 I decided that I needed to give up smoking again; this time for good: My lungs were losing their capacity and I had begun to suffer from regular sore-throats at times. – Added to which I felt like the air that I exhaled was a gaseous concoction of vile particles of pollution, even when I wasn’t actually smoking. Giving up instantly and totally was near impossible though, and so in 2015 I abandoned tobacco for medicinal nicotine and electronic cigarettes.
In February 2016 I attempted to abandon nicotine altogether – and failed at first… But strangely during March I did just that, almost without realising it.
My voice, which had been starting to get croaky beforehand, improved shortly after giving up tobacco, and the sore-throats ceased. In short it improved… and then it got harder to keep the pitch and tonal qualities under control.
Now I really don’t want to take up nicotine addiction in any form again, having kicked it. Having done so has saved me a little extra pocket-money too; and I’m happy – even though I’ve always maintained that I’m a born-nicotine-addict and loved every nicotine-fix. – Those days are over now.
The problem is my voice: It’s not used to not smoking, and I think I might have to retrain it to some extent, at least a little, as lately I don’t seem to have the control that I once had over it. Having said that I gave my voice a quick test whilst out in the kitchen earlier today and it sounded clearer than it used to when I was smoking.
I’m working on a couple of tracks at present, and I’m soon to create the vocals for them. It’ll be interesting to listen to the recordings and to see whether or not my voice has changed to any noticeable extent. If it is indeed the case that it has, then actually proving that it was caused by giving up smoking/nicotine will be difficult and a waste of resources on my budget. – Nevertheless I think it would be safe to conclude that giving up had at least something to do with it.
Update November 2019: It was worth doing. My voice has re-stabilised and I feel healthier all round.