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The Real Rewards of Quitting

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When a strong craving hits, it can be easy to lose sight of the benefits of quitting. You might lose your focus, but there is no good reason to smoke. Remind yourself of the rewards of quitting to stay on track.

Instant Rewards of Quitting

When you smoke, the chemicals in tobacco reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale. Your blood then carries the toxins to every organ in your body. There is no safe amount of cigarette smoke. After you quit, your body begins to heal within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, and the nicotine leaves your body within three days. As your body starts to repair itself, you may feel worse instead of better. Withdrawal can be difficult, but this is a sign that your body is healing.

Long−term Rewards of Quitting

Tobacco use in the United States causes about 443,000 deaths each year, or nearly one in every five deaths. Quitting can help you add years to your life. Smokers die on average 13 years earlier than non-smokers. Take control of your health by quitting (and staying quit). Over time, you will greatly lower your risk of death from lung cancer and other diseases, such as:

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Chronic bronchitis

  • Emphysema

  • At least 13 other kinds of cancer

You will also cut back on dangerous secondhand smoke for your loved ones. In the United States, about 49,000 deaths are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke—protect your family and set a good example. By quitting, you’re showing your family and other young people that a life without cigarettes is not only healthy, but possible.

Health Milestones After You Quit

  • Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
  • Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood stream drops to normal
  • Within 3 months, your circulation and lung function improves
  • After 9 months, you will cough less and breathe easier
  • After 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half
  • After 5 years, your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half
  • After 10 years, you are one-half as likely to die from lung cancer, and your risk of larynx or pancreatic cancer decreases
  • After 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s risk

Stop Smoking Recovery Timetable

20 minutes

Your blood pressure, pulse rate and the temperature of your hands and feet have returned to normal.

8 hours

Remaining nicotine in your bloodstream has fallen to 6.25% of normal peak daily levels, a 93.75% reduction.

12 hours

Your blood oxygen level has increased to normal. Carbon monoxide levels have dropped to normal.

24 hours

Anxieties have peaked in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels.

48 hours

Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal. Cessation anger and irritability will have peaked.

72 hours

Your entire body will test 100% nicotine-free and over 90% of all nicotine metabolites (the chemicals it breaks down into) will now have passed from your body via your urine.  Symptoms of chemical withdrawal have peaked in intensity, including restlessness. The number of cue induced crave episodes experienced during any quitting day have peaked for the “average” ex-user. Lung bronchial tubes leading to air sacs (alveoli) are beginning to relax in recovering smokers. Breathing is becoming easier and your lung’s functional abilities are starting to increase.

5 – 8 days

The “average” ex-smoker will encounter an “average” of three cue induced crave episodes per day. Although we may not be “average” and although serious cessation time distortion can make minutes feel like hours, it is unlikely that any single episode will last longer than 3 minutes. Keep a clock handy and time them.

10 days

10 days – The “average” ex-user is down to encountering less than two crave episodes per day, each less than 3 minutes.

10 days to 2 weeks

Recovery has likely progressed to the point where your addiction is no longer doing the talking. Blood circulation in your gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user.

2 to 4 weeks

Cessation related anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, restlessness and depression have ended. If still experiencing any of these symptoms get seen and evaluated by your physician.

21 days

The number of acetylcholine receptors, which were up-regulated in response to nicotine’s presence in the frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital, basal ganglia, thalamus, brain stem, and cerebellum regions of the brain, have now substantially down-regulated, and receptor binding has returned to levels seen in the brains of non-smokers (2007 study).

2 weeks to 3 months

Your heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve.

3 weeks to 3 months

Your circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared. If not, get seen by a doctor, and sooner if at all concerned, as a chronic cough can be a sign of lung cancer.

8 weeks

Insulin resistance in smokers has normalized despite average weight gain of 2.7 kg (2010 SGR, page 384).

1 to 9 months

Any smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath has decreased. Cilia have regrown in your lungs, thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean and reduce infections. Your body’s overall energy has increased.

1 year

Your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.

5 years

Your risk of a subarachnoid haemorrhage has declined to 59% of your risk while still smoking (2012 study). If a female ex-smoker, your risk of developing diabetes is now that of a non-smoker (2001 study).

5 to 15 years

Your risk of stroke has declined to that of a non-smoker.

10 years

Your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30% and 50% of that for a continuing smoker (2005 study). Risk of death from lung cancer has declined by almost half if you were an average smoker (one pack per day).  Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and pancreas have declined. Risk of developing diabetes for both men and women is now similar to that of a never-smoker (2001 study).

13 years

The average smoker who is able to live to age 75 has 5.8 fewer teeth than a non-smoker (1998 study). But by year 13 after quitting, your risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a never-smoker (2006 study).

15 years

Your risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who has never smoked. Your risk of pancreatic cancer has declined to that of a never-smoker (2011 study – but note 2nd pancreatic study making identical finding at 20 years).

20 years

Female excess risk of death from all smoking related causes, including lung disease and cancer, has now reduced to that of a never-smoker (2008 study). Risk of pancreatic cancer has declined to that of a never-smoker (2011 study).

source: smokefree.gov