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The Timeline Of Health Improvements When Quitting Smoking

Quitting cigarettes can be incredibly difficult as smokers can easily become addicted to both the habit of lighting up and the pleasure of inhaling nicotine. 

However, knowing it only takes a few hours of being smoke-free to begin to feel better can certainly make putting up with the withdrawal symptoms worthwhile and the temptation to swap to vapes stronger.


So what happens when you quit smoking…

  • Within a few hours

It might sound shocking, but just four to six hours after smoking your last cigarette your breath will become fresher and your nicotine levels will drop. 

Your heart rate will also return to normal and blood pressure will stabilise.

  • Within 24 hours

In only one day, the nicotine will be gone from your bloodstream. What’s more, the carbon monoxide in your blood will have fallen and oxygen levels increased. This means the vital organs, including the heart, can run better. 

  • Within one week

Although you might not have noticed any health improvements yourself yet, by the end of the first week, you may find your sense of taste and smell is better, as nerve endings, which have been damaged by smoking, will begin to regrow.

  • Within one month

Four weeks after vaping instead of smoking you will notice breathing and walking will be easier, as your circulation will have improved and there will be more oxygen in your blood. 

  • Within three months

There will be significant improvements in your body after three months without cigarettes. 

These include your lungs removing mucus and tar from the lungs, as its cleaning mechanism naturally begins to recover. Therefore, you will find yourself coughing or wheezing less. 

As blood circulation continues to improve, you will be able to feel your hands and feet better. A healthier immune system also means your body will be able to fight infections more easily.

You might also notice tobacco stains on your fingers start to fade.

  • Within six months

Half a year after your last cigarette you might find you are significantly less stressed than when you smoked. 

You are also less likely to be coughing phlegm. 

  • Within one year

Within one year of being smoke-free, your coughing and breathing will have improved greatly as your lungs will be much cleaner. 

Your energy levels will have also improved, and you will not have as many coughs and colds as before.

The increased risk of coronary heart disease you had as a smoker will now have halved. 

  • Within two and five years

Although you will still experience health repercussions from smoking, the risk of a heart attack and stroke will continue to fall.

  • Within five years

After five years, the increased risk of developing cervical cancer will have disappeared, and the chance of getting the disease will be the same as someone who has never smoked. 

  • Within ten to 15 years

The increased risk of lung, mouth, throat and esophageal cancers will be half of a smoker, while the risk of bladder, oral cavity, pancreatic, and laryngeal cancers will have also declined. 

Still, those who have quit after having smoked heavily are still at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. 

According to Harvard Health: “Even ten to 15 years after quitting, several studies have shown that an ex-smoker is several times more likely to die of lung cancer than someone who has never smoked.”

Therefore, they still require regular screenings for several years after quitting. 

  • Within 20 years

Although it will take 20 years, the risk of heart attack and stroke will eventually be the same as a nonsmoker. 

However, lasting DNA damage to lung cells means ex-smokers may always be at a higher risk than those who never smoked. 

Harvard Health reported a study that showed American veterans who were smokers had a 50 per cent higher chance of dying from lung cancer than those who were nonsmokers. 

Despite this, there are many health benefits to quitting cigarettes and swapping to vaping instead, some of which can be felt within a very short timeframe.