For Immediate Release

ASH Wales and RNID Cymru have united to draw attention to the link between smoking and hearing problems in the light of two new studies released earlier this month.

New research studies from America and Belgium revealed a link between smoking (active and passive) and permanent hearing damage as a result of smoking disrupting the flow of blood to the ear.

The link with smoking and ear damage has been increasingly evidenced and documented over the years but there has been limited information about any causal link with passive smoking.

Tanya Buchanan, Chief Executive of the public health charity ASH Wales, said: “These new studies will further add to the growing body of evidence about the adverse health effects of smoking, both active and passive. The Royal College of Physicians report into passive smoking and children earlier this year found that passive smoking in the home is a major health hazard to children and causes 120,000 cases of middle ear disease in children each year as well as a range of other disorders.

"Most people know that smoking gives you serious illnesses like cancer, heart and respiratory disorders but I don’t think many members of the public are aware of the consequences on their hearing or that their smoking affects others, particularly children. That is why we want to raise awareness of these issues so that the public have the best information available to them.

"We do need to do more to protect children and young people from secondhand smoke and reducing smoking rates amongst all groups will help reduce their exposure. But we also need to address smoking in the home and in cars in which children are present. ASH Wales ran a programme to promote the benefits of smokefree homes in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan but we need to see this rolled out across Wales. We also need to have a sensible debate about the dangers of secondhand smoke to children in cars.”

“Doctors already know that people who smoke regularly can damage their hearing”, said Richard Williams, Director of RNID Cymru – the charity taking action on hearing loss.

“Now, this report has found that there is an increased risk of people losing their hearing if they are exposed to passive smoking too. I just can’t see why people would expose others – their friends and loved ones – to the possibility of hearing loss, which we know causes social isolation, depression and frustration”, he added.