A Timeline of Benefits When You Quit Smoking

JUNE 5, 2018 / IN QUITTING SMOKING / 5 MIN READ

Written by ELLA BARKANS
Medically reviewed by Dr. Maroof Ahmed, MD on September 5, 2018

Let’s face it. Cigarettes don’t have much going for them.

Like a bad relationship, they can affect so many aspects of your life and be seriously difficult to shake.

But they’re bringing you down, and a break-up is, without a doubt, the best way forward.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why you should quit smoking and explore a timeline of things to look forward to once you’re smoke-free!

Cigarettes wreak havoc on your health

Smokers are at a significantly increased risk of developing heart disease, lung disease and several types of cancers, compared with those who have never smoked.

Smoking is also associated with fertility problems, and can lead to a whole host of potentially serious complications if you do become pregnant.

It doesn’t end there either. Cigarette smoke can also dull your sense of taste and smell, and the effects of smoking on your breathing can make physical activity a strain.

While the sooner you stop smoking the better, kicking the habit at any stage of life will significantly cut your risk of chronic disease, and help you regain healthy life years.

They drain your bank balance

Smoke a pack a day? The cost adds up, right?

That’s a ton of money that could be put to so many better uses.

After just a few months of quitting you could have enough for a trip abroad. A few more and you might be one step closer to that car you’ve had your eye on.

They can affect your relationships

From putting off potential matches to having a direct effect on your libido and (if you’re a guy) your ability to get it up, your smoking habits can negatively impact numerous aspects of your sex life. No promises, but quitting smoking could be the key to upping your game.

But I’m not only talking about relationships of the romantic kind.

If you hang around with friends or family members who have children, or who’d simply rather not expose themselves to second-hand cigarette smoke, things could get awkward.

Feeling isolated is never fun, and if cigarettes are the culprit, your social life could definitely benefit from you ditching them.

A Quit Smoking Timeline

So the reasons for quitting seem pretty sound, but how long do you have to wait before the health benefits actually take effect? Let’s break down the changes over time, so you’ll know when you’re likely to start noticing the results of smoking cessation.

20 minutes: Your pulse rate will return to normal.

8 hours: Your oxygen levels begin to return to normal, whilst nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in your blood decrease by over 50%.

48 hours: You should start to notice an improved sense of taste and smell. As nicotine levels become depleted, the side effects of nicotine withdrawal such as anxiety and irritability might start to creep in (don’t worry! We have tips to help you with that).

72 hours: Your lungs begin to relax and breathing should be easier. Nicotine is completely eliminated from the body and as a result nicotine withdrawal symptoms will have reached their peak.

5 to 10 days: The average smoker will begin to notice a reduction in the number of nicotine cravings experienced in a day (you’re getting there!)

2 to 12 weeks: Your circulation starts to improve. You may notice that physical activity becomes a lot easier. You’ll be free of the addiction and any psychological effects of withdrawal should have ended.

3 to 9 months: Lung function begins to improve markedly. Coughing and wheezing becomes less frequent and the risk of respiratory infections begins to decrease.

1 year: Your risk of heart disease decreases by around 50%.

5 years: Your risk of stroke is significantly reduced, as your blood vessels begin to widen again, making blood clots less likely.

10 years: Your lung cancer risk is reduced by around 50%, whilst the chance that you’ll develop cancers of the mouth, oesophagus, throat and pancreas is also far less likely.

15 years: Your risk of developing heart disease is the same as that of a non-smoker.

20 years: The likelihood that you’ll develop pancreatic cancer is now equivalent to that of someone who has never smoked. In females, the risk of dying from all smoking-related causes is also now the same as that of a non-smoker.

What’s the best way to go about quitting?

There are several methods of smoking cessation, but not all are equally as effective.

It’s important to remember that smoking is an addiction, and the causes or reasons for sustaining the habit may be deep-rooted. That means that any intervention aimed at tackling your nicotine addiction will need to focus on both the physiological and psychological aspects of smoking.

So whilst going ‘cold turkey’ may seem like the quickest and easiest option, research suggests that for most people, it’s unlikely to be effective in the long term.

Unlike the cold turkey strategy, which relies on willpower and determination alone, methods that utilise cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) yield far more promising results. That’s because they address the underlying triggers of smoking, and promote positive behaviour change by providing practical and realistic solutions to nicotine cravings.

Don’t rule out nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) either. Quit smoking aids such as nicotine gums and patches can be extremely useful in helping you reach your smoking cessation goals, as by delivering small amounts of nicotine they’ll help to reduce withdrawal symptoms, making it less likely that you’ll relapse.

Plan your quitting journey carefully and you will see results!

No one’s saying it’s going to be easy — as with any addiction, there’s going to be a whole lot of adapting to get used to.

But if you combine careful planning with an evidence-based quitting method such as Quit Genius, you will benefit from the results, in as little as a few hours!

By breaking down your quit smoking goals into manageable milestones, you’ll gain control over your addiction, and as a result, will be far more likely to remain smoke-free.

To keep you motivated, you can also keep track of your gains in real time with the Quit Genius app. During each step of the way, you’ll be able to view the progress you’ve made, from health improvements, to money saved and number of life years gained.

So try not to put it off any longer — there’s no better time to end it and all the support you need is right here!

Quit Genius delivers scientifically proven CBT specifically targeted towards smoking cessation, all wrapped up in a practical and user-friendly app. You’ll have personalised advice available on demand, supporting you throughout the entire process. Start your journey ->

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