When A Smoker Quits

Within 20 minutes of smoking that last cigarette, the body begins a series of changes that continue for years. All benefits are lost by smoking just one cigarette a day, according to the American Cancer Society.

Within 20 minutes...

  • Ability to smell and taste is enhanced.
  • Blood pressure drops to normal.
  • Pulse rate drops to normal.
  • Circulation improves
  • Body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal.

Within 8 hours...

  • Lung function increases up to 30 percent.
  • Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal.
  • Oxygen level in blood increases to normal.

Within 24 hours...

  • Chance of heart attack decreases.

Within 48 hours...

  • Nerve endings start regrowing.

Within 2 weeks to 3 months...

  • Walking becomes easier.

Within 1 to 9 months...

  • Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease.
  • Cilia (protective hairlike substance) regrow in lungs, increasing the lungs' ability to handle mucus, clean and filter waste or harmful matter, and reducing infection.

Within 1 year...

Excess risk of coronary disease is half that of a smoker.

Within 5 years...

  • Lung cancer death rate for average former smoker (one pack a day) decreases by almost half.
  • Stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker within 5 to 15 years after quitting.
  • Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus is half that of a smoker's.

Within 10 years...

  • Lung cancer death rate is similar to that of non-smokers.
  • Precancerous cells are replaced.
  • Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases.

Within 15 years...

  • Risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker


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