What Are the Benefits of Quitting?






Within 20 minutes of smoking that last cigarette, the body begins a series of changes. 

At 20 minutes after quitting: 

  • blood pressure decreases 
  • pulse rate drops 
  • body temperature of hands and feet increases 

At 8 hours: 

  • carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal 
  • oxygen level in blood increases to normal 

At 24 hours: 

  • chance of a heart attack decreases 

At 48 hours: 

  • nerve endings start regrowing 
  • ability to smell and taste is enhanced 

The first year after quitting 

At 2 weeks to 3 months: 

  • circulation improves 
  • walking becomes easier 
  • lung function increases 

At 1 to 9 months: 

  • coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath decrease 

At 1 year: 

  • excess risk of coronary heart disease is decreased to half that of a smoker 

Long-term benefits of quitting 

At 5 years: 

  • from 5 to 15 years after quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of people who have never smoked 

At 10 years: 

  • risk of lung cancer drops to as little as one half that of continuing smokers 
  • risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases 
  • risk of ulcer decreases 

At 15 years: 

  • risk of coronary heart disease is now similar to that of people who have never smoked 
  • risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked 

©2002 American Lung Association. Reprinted by permission.