A lot of times, after a person has quit smoking, a lot of phlegm and mucus begings to come up. If you've been smoking for a long time (I smoked for then years), my cords stayed swollen for at least a year after that and I had to take lessons to get the stretch back, and eventually the swelling left.
Cigarettes burn the cords. It's not as much the tobacco as it is the paper, but nevertheless, it burns them. Burning them is what makes them swell and then your body produces mucus to try to protect them. Often, the cords of a cigarette smoke will appear pink or red, and swollen, when they are supposed to be pearl-white in color.
And yes, we all know the risks of smoking,so I can't encourage you enough to quit. I quit by using cinnamon sticks (the kind you put in apple cider). I made sure they had a hole that went straight through and were about the length of my cigarettes. I sucked air through them like I would a cigarette and discovered that it was the inhale/exhale that I was addicted to -- The breating in and out is what seemed to help take the edge off my feelings whether happy or sad. So I ran around with those sticks for six months -- never went anywhere without them -- and ended up getting a lot of support from strangers when asked "WHAT are you smoking??" and I'd answer, "I'm not. Can't you see that? (No Smoke coming out) I'm trying to quit." That's when I'd get pats on the back, once from Diana Ross in an elevator!
DENA MURRAY, www.denamurray.com
, "like a singer's pathologist"
Books: Vocal Technique: Finding Your Real Voice (2002) & Advanced Vocal Technique: Middle Voice, Placement and Styles (end of 2007-2008) both published by Hal Leonard Corp.