Learn how quitting smoking improves your health over time.
It's no secret that smoking has negative effects on your body, but even if you've smoked for years, there's still good reason to quit. In fact, the benefits of quitting smoking start to kick in within the first 30 minutes of your last cigarette. From there, your health can gradually improve and your risks for numerous serious and chronic diseases can be reduced over time.
Even though the number of adult smokers in the United States has decreased since 2006, nearly 38 million adults still smoke. If you're a smoker and you want to stop, here are some benefits of quitting smoking that you may want to consider.
Why You Should Quit
It's probably not a surprise to anyone to hear that smoking is bad for you—it's written on cigarette packs themselves—but do you know what makes it bad? Smoking causes almost 500,000 deaths a year and can reduce longevity by around 10 years, but that's only part of the story.
Before smoking becomes fatal, it can increase your risk of multiple serious and chronic conditions including:
- Heart disease
- Lung cancer and other cancers
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic bronchitis
More than 16 million Americans are living with a smoking-related disease. In addition to improving your health, quitting will save you money and help improve the appearance of your skin, hair, and nails.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking Over Time
You may think that because smoking can damage your body over time that it will also take a while before your body can reverse that damage. That's partially true, but fortunately, your body begins some of its repairs right away, which may help give you the incentive to stick with it. It's never too late to quit but earlier is always better. Here's a look at what happens in your body once you stop smoking.
Within the First Hour
In as soon as 20 minutes, your heart rate starts to slow from elevated to normal. Blood pressure also begins to decrease, and for some people, circulation will begin to improve.
Within 12 Hours
One of the toxic substances in cigarettes is carbon monoxide. Within 12 hours of your last cigarette, the carbon monoxide level in your blood will decrease to a normal range.
Within Two Days
After 48 hours, lower blood pressure can begin to reduce your risks of heart attack and heart disease and your sense of smell starts to return to normal.
Within One Month
When you stop smoking for one month, your lung function begins to improve, meaning you may be able to exercise without feeling shortness of breath. You may also notice that you cough less.
Within One Year
After a year without cigarettes, your risk for most smoking-related diseases declines. Your chances for developing coronary heart disease are reduced to about half of what they are for a smoker, and your risk of heart attack decreases as well.
Within Five Years
Half a decade after your last cigarette, your risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancers is reduced by about 50 percent, and your chances of having a stroke are about the same as a nonsmoker's.
The longer you stay away from cigarettes, the more your health improves. Over time, you'll be able to erase or reduce most of the negative effects cigarettes have on your health and body.
How to Quit Smoking
While reasons to quit smoking may be persuasive and plentiful, it's still hard to do. Making a quit smoking plan, getting help and support from your family and friends, and using smoking cessation products can all be vital to your success. According to the National Cancer Institute, using nicotine replacement products can double your chances of quitting for good.
Rite Aid's Quit Smoking Solution Center offers products to help you ease your nicotine cravings, educational articles, and a personalized program called Quit for You that provides one-on-one support and tools to help you throughout your journey to quit smoking. Even if you've smoked for years, it's never too late to take back your health.
By Joelle Klein
Medical News Today, The Reasons Why Smoking Is Bad for You
Medical News Today, What Happens After Your Quit Smoking?
Smokefree.gov, Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy
American Cancer Society, The Benefits of Quitting Over Time
American Lung Association, Five Secrets for Quitting
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking