What happens when you stop smoking?

2 min read

Quitting smoking can make a drastic improvement to your health in ways that you might not realise.

Once you stop smoking, some of the benefits can be felt almost immediately, while others are long-term.

Here, we look into what happens when you put down the cigarettes for good.

Short-term benefits

After 20 minutes: The pulse rate returns to normal.

After 8 hours: Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood reduce by more than half and oxygen levels return to normal.

After 48 hours: Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. The lungs begin to clear out mucus and other debris caused by smoking.

After 48 hours: There is no more nicotine in the body. Your ability to taste and smell improves.

After 72 hours: Breathing becomes easier. Your bronchial tubes begin to relax and your energy levels start to increase.

Longer-term benefits

After 2-12 weeks: Circulation improves.

After 3-9 months: Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems reduce as your lung function improves by as much as 10%.

After 1 year: The risk of heart disease is roughly half compared to a person who still smokes.

After 10 years: The risk of lung cancer drops to half of that of a smoker.

After 15 years: The risk of heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked.

Other benefits

In addition to the health benefits of stopping smoking, it also has a positive effect on your bank balance.

The average smoker has 13 cigarettes a day, which works out to 364 cigarettes a month. That costs £141 a month and £1,696 a year that you could be saving if you didn’t smoke.

Your breathing and general fitness will improve, while the appearance of your skin and teeth will also see a marked improvement.

Your fertility levels could also improve, along with your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.

It will also have a positive effect on the people around you. Second-hand smoke can have a number of negative health benefits linked to it, regardless of how careful you might think you are.

You will reduce the chances of your children suffering from bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks, and meningitis and ear infections.


Even if you have smoked for many years, you can make steps to reverse the effects and feel the health benefits, from as early as the first few hours you stop smoking.

As you can see, there are a number of beneficial effects that stopping smoking has on you and your well being.

Each year of not smoking decreases risks and improves overall health, further highlighting the positive effects that long-term quitting has.


NHS Smokefree - https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/what-happens-when-you-quit

Image courtesy of Matthew MacQuarrie



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