It’s never too late to quit using tobacco. The sooner you quit, the more you can reduce your chances of getting cancer and other diseases.
Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover:
20 minutes after quitting
Your heart rate and blood pressure drop. (Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification, Mahmud A, Feely J. 2003. Hypertension:41:183)
12 hours after quitting
The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1988, p. 202)
2 weeks to 3 months after quitting
Your circulation improves and your lung function increases. (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp.193, 194,196, 285, 323)
1 to 9 months after quitting
Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection. (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)
1 year after quitting
The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically. (US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010, p. 359)
5 years after quitting
Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years. (A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease – The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease Fact Sheet, 2010; Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p 341)
10 years after quitting
Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases. (A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease – The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease Fact Sheet, 2010; and US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. vi, 155, 165)
15 years after quitting
Your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s. (Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007. p 11)
These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs.
Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%.
Quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.
Are there benefits of quitting that I’ll notice right away?
Kicking the tobacco habit offers some rewards that you’ll notice right away and some that will show up more slowly over time. Right away you’ll save the money you spent on tobacco! And here are just a few other benefits you may notice:
Food tastes better.
Your sense of smell returns to normal.
Your breath, hair, and clothes smell better.
Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
Ordinary activities leave you less out of breath (for example, climbing stairs or light housework).
You can be in smoke-free buildings without having to go outside to smoke.
Quitting also helps stop the damaging effects of tobacco on how you look, including premature wrinkling of your skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.