You Wanted to Know: Recovering from Smoking

No smoking

You don’t need to hear it from me to know that smoking is bad for you. Thanks to decades of research and anti-smoking campaigns, most of us now know that this deadly habit increases your risk of countless medical problems, including multiple cancers, respiratory diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and early aging. This is why nearly half of the over 1 billion smokers worldwide can expect to die from a tobacco-related disease. But today I’ll tell you some benefits of quitting that you may never have guessed.

Whether you’re a former or a current smoker, or just someone around a lot of second-hand smoke, it’s important to know that the dangerous effects of this deadly habit can linger even after the embers die on your last cigarette. But how long do the damaging effects of smoking hang around?

This is what @mehmet_arslan76 would like to know. On Twitter, he asked:


There’s no doubt about it, quitting is tough. As Mark Twain famously said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” But I promise you, all the hard work is well worth it – and here’s why.

According to the American Cancer Society, after 20 minutes, your body starts its healing process. Your heart rate and blood pressure, raised by the nicotine, begin to drop, helping to reduce the stress on your heart and blood vessels.

After 12 hours, the level of the poisonous gas carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal, promoting oxygen delivery to all your vital organs.

After 2 weeks to 3 months, your circulation, which has been restricted by smoking, starts to improve. Your lung function gets better. As soon as 1 month, you may start breathing more easily, with less shortness of breath and coughing. Cilia, the fragile structures that help sweep out debris and mucous from your airways begin to recover, reducing your risk for infection.

After 1 year, your risk of heart disease, the leading killer in both men and women, is half of what it was when you were smoking.

After 2-4 years, your stroke risk has dropped back to normal.

After 5 years, you have halved your elevated risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder. Plus, cervical cancer risk is the same as someone who never smoked.

After 10 years, your risk of dying from lung cancer has been cut in half. Your risk of pancreatic cancer has also dropped.

After 15 years, your risk of having a heart attack is the same as a nonsmoker’s.

So as hard as it is to kick the habit, try and try again. As you can see, it won’t take long for your body to thank you.

To get you started, here are some quick quitting tips.