A Haggard Look? ‘Smoker’s Face’ May Be to Blame

Associated Press

Cigarette smoking can lead to “smoker’s face,” a wrinkled, weary, haggard look that will give you away every time, a British doctor says.

In an article published Friday in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Douglas Model, a specialist in general medicine at Eastbourne District General Hospital, said his findings could be important in anti-smoking campaigns.

“In my experience, many people notice the ravages of smoking for the first time when it is pointed out to them that they can be identified by their faces alone,” he wrote.


The journal, the main research magazine of the British Medical Assn., accompanied Model’s article with photographs of nine people, inviting readers to pick the smokers.

Among them were two well-known personalities, the late actor William Holden and the late poet W.H. Auden, both of whom smoked and had deeply lined faces.

‘Recognizable Wrinkling’

Model said his survey confirmed earlier findings that “cigarette smoking causes readily recognizable wrinkling and other changes to the face of many people.”

He said changes in the color and quality of the skin “suggest a toxic process.” Other studies show that cigarette smoking reduces circulation to the skin in humans and mice, the doctor said.

His article said that three previous studies indicated a link between cigarette smoking and wrinkling and other changes in complexion.

Model conducted the survey to determine whether smokers and abstainers could be distinguished on the basis of facial features alone, he said.


The author defined smoker’s face as at least one of the following:

--Crow’s-feet at the corners of the eyes, or other lines, or wrinkles radiating at right angles from the upper or lower lips, or deep lines on the cheeks and lower jaw.

--A subtle gauntness, in some cases causing a slight sinking of the cheeks or a leathery, worn or rugged appearance.

--A slightly gray, orange, purple or red complexion.

116 Volunteers

For the study, 116 volunteers aged 35 to 69 were chosen from patients attending general medical outpatient clinics at two hospitals in southeastern England.

Each volunteer was asked about age, diet, consumption of alcohol, smoking habits, occupation, recent weight changes and exposure to sunlight.

While still unaware of responses, Model noted on a survey sheet whether they had smoker’s face.

Among the volunteers were 41 current smokers, 37 past smokers and 38 nonsmokers. Model said smoker’s face was present in 19 current smokers and three who had quit, but none of the nonsmokers had it.