Though the percentage of Americans who smoke cigarettes has steadily decreased over the past several decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 38 million adults smoke cigarettes either “every day” or “some days.”
One caveat to be mentioned is while cigarette use is down, e-cigarettes and vaping are up, in part because some people use them as a way to quit cigarettes.
Cigarettes are still one of the leading causes of preventable death in the nation.
Kicking a cigarette habit can be incredibly difficult because nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs on the market.
People often try and fail over and over before they’re successful, but there are two important things to understand about the stop smoking timeline:
- Anyone can quit smoking cigarettes
- The health benefits start piling up almost immediately
Quitting Smoking Timeline – What Happens to the Body When you Quit Smoking Cigarettes?
First and foremost, smokers who want to ditch cigarettes need to have a plan ahead of time, in order to combat the physical and psychological cravings quitting will trigger.
There are plenty of free quitting smoking resources, which is a good place to start.
It’s also vital to arm yourself with knowledge about how fast the benefits of quitting will start to take effect.
1 Hour After Quitting Smoking
Within 1 hour of a person’s last cigarette, heart rate and blood pressure begin dropping and blood circulation in the body will improve.
12 Hours After a Person Stops Smoking
By the 12-hour mark, levels of carbon monoxide, a toxin in tobacco smoke, will begin to normalize and improve the body’s levels of oxygen.
24 Hours After the Last Cigarette
Astoundingly, a person’s risk of a heart attack decreases by the 24-hour mark because of lower blood pressure, increased oxygen levels and improved circulation.
2 Days After Quitting
Food will taste and smell better in just 2 days after a person quits smoking, as these nerve endings, damaged by cigarettes, begin to repair themselves.
3 Days After Stopping Cigarettes
The 3-day mark is often people’s greatest challenge as cravings intensify, causing withdrawal symptoms, like mood swings and headaches. What’s important to remember at this stage is that physical withdrawal from nicotine is almost over.
1 Month After a Person Stops
In just 1 month’s time, the lungs are starting to heal. Without cigarette smoke, a person’s lung capacity improves. They may notice higher energy levels as a result of more oxygen and a greater ability for cardiovascular exercise.
1 to 3 Months After a Person Gives Up Cigarettes
The cardiovascular benefits will only continue to improve anytime between the 1 to 3 month cessation periods.
9 Months Later
By 9 months, the lungs are fully healed, allowing the cilia, tiny structures inside the lungs that help fight infection and remove mucus, to do their job. Previous smokers may notice they’re having fewer lung and sinus infections as a result.
1 Year After the Last Puff
1 year after the last cigarette, a person’s risk of heart attack has decreased by half that of a person still smoking.
2 Years After Stopping
The risk of heart attack drops to almost normal.
5 Years After Being Cigarette-Free
The risk of lung cancer is cut in half by 5 years, as well as a decrease in the risk of mouth, throat and pancreatic cancer.
10 Years After Giving Up Smoking
10 years after the last cigarette, a person’s risk for lung cancer is comparable to that of a person who never smoked.
15 Years After Quitting
15 years of being smoke free makes the risk of coronary heart disease equal to that of a person who never smoked.
20 Years After Quitting
By 20 years after quitting, a person’s chances of cigarette-related death is the same as a person that has never had a cigarette in their life.
Are E-Cigarettes or Vaping Safer than Cigarettes?
The statistics related to vaping and e-cigarettes are less clear.
While the CDC does say that e-cigarettes might help smokers quit using tobacco products, at least 12 people have died in 2019 and 805 lung injuries have been reported across 46 states, all of which are related to vaping and e-cigarette use, according to the CDC.
There has also been an alarming increase in the number of teenagers who vape or use e-cigarettes.
In a 2018 survey conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH), 37 percent of high school seniors admitted to vaping.
E-cigarettes are particularly harmful for young people and teenagers whose bodies and brains are still developing, and are even more vulnerable.
The Great American Smokeout – Third Thursday in November
More than 40 years ago in San Francisco’s Union Square, The Great American Smokeout was established. It’s been an annual event, held on the third Thursday in November since 1977, and has helped thousands of people give up cigarettes.
One of the biggest advantages to quitting smoking during the Great American Smokeout is the level of support from thousands of other Americans who are giving up cigarettes at the same time.
During the month of November, there are also many available resources from former smokers and the American Cancer Society.
It’s never too late to quit smoking cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or even smokeless tobacco. Take this opportunity for healthier, happier, more rewarding lifestyle.