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The benefits of quitting smoking in real time

23 Nov 2022 • 1 min read

You won’t need to be told that smoking is bad for you, and that quitting is the best thing you can do today for your health. You’ll no doubt be aware of the other benefits of stopping smoking too- including saving money, smelling better and being more sociable as it’s no fun having to stand outside puffing away when everyone else is indoors. However, many people don’t realise just how impactful quitting smoking really is for your health, and that much of the damage done by the habit can actually be reversed if you stay committed to a smoke-free life. It might be tempting to think, “I don’t smoke that many”, or “how much harm can it really be doing?”, but the harmful effects of smoking on the body are extremely serious. Handpicked content: Here’s how you can quit smoking and start to feel the benefits You’re unlikely to want to quit by dwelling on the negatives, however, which is why we’ve compiled this list of incredible benefits of quitting smoking, in real time!

When you’ve quit for 20 minutes…

This can be the hardest part for many quitters, as your body will be expecting its next hit of nicotine and you will likely feel a little agitated as the cravings kick in. However, on the plus side, your pulse will return to normal after being elevated by your last cigarette. Studies have shown that smokers have a raised heart rate even at rest, 1 but quitting will quickly return this to normal.

When you’ve quit for 8 hours…

Harmful nicotine and carbon monoxide begin to leave your blood after eight hours. This means the body’s oxygen levels return to normal. 2 This can also be a tough time in terms of cravings but stay strong. This may be the beginning of the journey, but amazing health benefits are just around the corner.

When you’ve quit for 24 hours…

The excess carbon monoxide caused by constant smoking will now be eliminated from your body. Nicotine begins to leave your body, too, and you’ll begin to clear excess mucus from your lungs. 3

When you’ve quit for 48 hours…

If you’ve made it this far, you’re well on your way to restoring your health to that of a non-smoker. The highly addictive toxin nicotine will have left your body at this point, and you might notice that your senses of taste and smell are gradually returning. 4 As the nicotine will have been cleansed from your system, you might experience strong nicotine cravings at this point, so make sure you have a support plan in place for this.

When you’ve quit for 72 hours…

By now, you’ll have noticed you’re breathing easier as your bronchial tubes relax. Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal such as anxiety should have peaked by now. 5

When you’ve quit for 2 – 12 weeks…

Your circulation improves, which should bring with it a brighter complexion and pinker gums. Closer to the 12-week mark, your lung function will improve, and you’ll be less wheezy.

When you’ve quit for 3-9 months…

Well done! The cravings should have subsided by now, and you should be enjoying an improvement in lung function of up to 10%. In addition, that smoker’s cough should be completely gone. 6

When you’ve quit for 1 year…

This incredible milestone is one to be celebrated. If you needed any other reason to celebrate than the average of £1696 (based on a 13-a-day habit) you’ll have saved, 7 consider that your risk of heart disease has now halved! 8

When you’ve quit for 10 years…

Your risk of developing lung cancer will have drastically reduced. A study from the British Medical Journal in 2000 found that stopping smoking before you reach middle age cuts down tobacco-related lung cancers by 90%. 9

And after 15 smoke-free years…

Your risk of developing coronary heart disease will be the same as someone who has never picked up a cigarette. 10 Also, you will have saved an average of over £25,000! 11

Don’t delay and quit today

It’s wonderful that your body can repair some of the damage from cigarette smoking. However, be warned that the longer you put off quitting, the slimmer your chances of restoring your health to its pre-smoking state. There’s never a better time to quit smoking than today, and don’t worry as you’re not alone. There is a lot of support out there to help you quit, from traditional remedies to free NHS quitting programmes. Handpicked content: The key to quitting smoking
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.


  1. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23685653.
  2. [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/what-happens-when-you-quit.
  3. [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/what-happens-when-you-quit.
  4. [Online] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/no-smoking-day-how-your-body-changes-minutes-after-you-stop-smoking-a6921326.html.
  5. [Online] http://whyquit.com/whyquit/A_Benefits_Time_Table.html.
  6. [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/what-happens-when-you-quit.
  7. [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/cost-calculator.
  8. [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/what-happens-when-you-quit.
  9. [Online] https://www.bmj.com/content/321/7257/323.full.print.
  10. [Online] http://www.who.int/tobacco/quitting/benefits/en/.
  11. [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/cost-calculator.
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