What Happens When You Stop Smoking?
When stopping smoking, you may notice a few changes start to happen. While withdrawal symptoms can come as part of this process, these are often short-lived, and all the good that can come from stopping will ultimately far outweigh any challenges.
So, what are the benefits of stopping smoking? Read on to discover some of the top ways you can benefit from going smoke-free.
What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Smoking?
There are a number of different changes that can happen to your body when you stop smoking. These changes start within minutes of finishing your last cigarette and can continue for years after.
What Happens When You Stop Smoking Timeline:
When you smoke, carbon monoxide goes into your blood.1 As a result, less oxygen is carried through your body, pushing the heart overwork.1,2&3 In the first hour after stopping smoking, your pulse rate should start returning to normal.4 In fact, this change begins to happen just 20 minutes after your last cigarette.4 Your blood pressure should also start to reduce within this timeframe.5 What happens after you stop smoking during this period just goes to show how quickly the body starts to recover from cigarette use.
There are lots of changes that happen to the body during the first three days of stopping smoking. Within the first day, your oxygen levels should start to recover as the amount of carbon monoxide in your body reduces.4 Even going just eight hours without a cigarette reduces the blood’s carbon monoxide levels by 50%.4 After day two, the carbon monoxide should completely disappear from the bloodstream.4 You may also find your sense of taste and smell begin to improve during the second day.4
By day three, you might notice that breathing becomes easier, and feel your energy levels to increase.4
After going two weeks without smoking, your circulation should improve, along with your oxygen levels.6 This change in itself can benefit your everyday life in loads of different ways, including the following:
- Exercises like walking and running become easier
- Your immune system can improve
- Energy levels may start to increase
- The chance of headaches can reduce6
By the one-month mark, you might find your complexion gets better.5 On top of this, your circulation should also continue to improve.4
A lot can happen after going a whole year without a cigarette. After a year has passed, the risk of a heart attack goes down to half of what it was when you smoked.4 You might also notice your breathing continues to improve, as well as any issues around coughing or wheezing.4 In fact, lung function can increase by 10% after the first months of this year.4
Stopping smoking for this length of time can be good for your wallet too. Bupa states the average person saves an average of around £1,682 each year they don’t buy cigarettes.
What Happens After You Stop Smoking Long Term?
The changes that happen to your body after you stop smoking can continue for years once you stop smoking - even up to a decade later. Ten years after your last cigarette, the risk of lung cancer halves compared to a smoker’s.4 & 5 The risk of getting other types of cancers also goes down after this time, including those in the mouth and throat, as well as a range of others.5
Once reaching 15 years without smoking, the risk of a heart attack goes down to the same as those who have never smoked.5
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Stopping Smoking?
You might notice some withdrawal symptoms when first stopping smoking. By understanding what these are, as well as learning how to alleviate them, you may find managing the symptoms and staying on track with your smoke-free journey much easier. NHS Inform explores some common withdrawal symptoms in more depth, as well as ways the manage them.
If you smoked regularly before stopping, you might experience cravings to smoke again.7 How strong these cravings are can vary, but in all cases, it’s important to remember that there are ways to manage them.7
Tips to help manage these withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Keep yourself busy to distract from cravings.7
- Exercise. Going for a walk or something similar might alleviate your cravings.7
- Remind yourself why you stopped, and why you want to keep on track to a smoke-free life.7
Cravings can be triggered by certain places and situations.8 Becoming more aware of what these triggers are and how to avoid them can be a big help when deciding to stop smoking.8
Is Vaping a Better Alternative to Smoking?
If you’re a smoker wanting to switch to a smoke-free alternative, vaping is worth considering.9 Switching to these devices significantly reduces your exposure to certain toxins, and lets you take control of your nicotine intake.9
The journey smokers have when going smoke-free with vaping may differ to the experience we’ve discussed here. Find out more on What Happens When You Stop Smoking and Start Vaping.
Thinking of making the switch to vaping? Why not explore our vape starter kits? Perfect if you’re wanting to move to a smoke-free lifestyle.
For more information on making the switch visit our VApril article here
- NHS Inform: https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/stopping-smoking/reasons-to-stop/tobacco#:~:text=Carbon%20monoxide%20is%20a%20poisonous,to%20heart%20disease%20and%20stroke.
- British Heart Foundation: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/risk-factors/smoking
- Gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/carbon-monoxide-properties-incident-management-and-toxicology/carbon-monoxide-general-information
- NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/
- Bupa: https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/benefits-giving-up-smoking
- Havering London Borough (article provided by NHS choices): https://familyserviceshub.havering.gov.uk/kb5/havering/directory/advice.page?id=eLupDOpsPKI
- Asthma + Lung UK: https://www.asthmaandlung.org.uk/living-with/stop-smoking/withdrawal
- Stroke Association: https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/what-can-i-do-to-reduce-my-risk/stop-smoking