Effects of passive smoking on odour identification in children

Benny Nageris*, Itzhak Braverman, Tuvia Hadar, Maynard C. Hansen, Saul Frenkiel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objective: The effect of passive smoking on odour identification in children has rarely been reported. This study assessed the ability of such young subjects to identify a variety of odours. Methods: The study population consisted of 20 children, 10 who were exposed to passive smoke at home and 10 with non-smoking parents. Ten odourants were tested: vinegar, ammonia, peppermint, roses, bleach, vanilla, cough drops, turpentine, licorice, and mothballs. Each child was presented with five test trays containing all 10 odourants in random order. Results: Of the total of 500 odours presented, the control group correctly identified 396 (79%) and the study group identified 356 (71%) (p < .005). The study group tended to misidentify 4 of the 10 odourants tested, namely, vanilla, roses, mothballs, and cough drops - 56 of 200 (28%), compared with 96 of 200 (48%) in the control group. This was a highly significant finding (p < .0005). Conclusion: This work demonstrated that children exposed to passive smoke have difficulty identifying odours in comparison with children raised in relatively smoke-free environments. The identification of four odourants, vanilla, roses, mothballs, and cough drops, was particularly diminished in this study group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-265
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Otolaryngology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Odourants
  • Olfaction
  • Passive smoking
  • Smell


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