Health Blog

Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking Over Time

Like many people who smoke, you may have thought about quitting. You may have found yourself coughing more than usual or found it difficult to breathe. You probably thought, “I have to stop smoking now!” You may have even tried once or twice before—only to find yourself smoking again.

Quitting smoking is not easy, and it’s not a matter of willpower. The nicotine in tobacco is addictive, and that’s what makes quitting so hard. The good news is we know more than ever about what works best to help people stop. A smoke-free life is possible, and there has never been a better time to try quitting than right now!

On November 16, join thousands of other people nationwide for the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.® Mark the date. Make a plan. And start living life smoke-free.

Quitting Smoking Leads to Better Health

Quitting smoking is one of the most critical actions you can take to improve your health. After your last cigarette is smoked, your body begins a series of positive changes that continue for years.

20 Minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop
A Few Days: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
2 Weeks to 3 Months: Your circulation improves, and your lung function increases
1-12 Months: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs (called cilia) start to regain normal function, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
1-2 Years: Your risk of heart attack drops dramatically.
5-10 Years: Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, and voice box (larynx) is cut in half.
10 Years: Your risk of lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking (after 10-15 years). Your risk of cancer of the bladder, esophagus, and kidney diseases decreases.
15 Years: Your risk of coronary heart disease is close to that of a nonsmoker.

To have the best chance of quitting and remaining smoke-free, it’s best to know what to expect, what your options are, what tools and quit-smoking medicines are available to you, and where to go for help. Quitting smoking is a journey. It can be challenging, but it is possible, and you can increase your chances of success with a good plan and support. Start here now.

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