What Are the Benefits of Quitting?

Within 20 minutes of smoking that last cigarette, the body begins a series of changes leading to a number of short- and long-term benefits, as outlined below.

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

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

At 5 to 15 years:

  • 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.