A Healthier Life

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Harvard Medical School

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A Healthier Life

Tobacco Cessation
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A Healthier Life
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The health benefits of smoking cessation will begin within hours of when you crush out your last cigarette.
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2014-09-08

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

The Benefits of Quitting
 
Congratulate yourself for taking the necessary steps to be smoke-free. By eliminating tobacco from your life, you are doing something wonderful for your health and the health of those around you.
 
Although you may not initially notice them, the health benefits of smoking cessation will begin within hours of when you crush out your last cigarette. It may take longer to feel the emotional benefits, but they, too, are sure to follow.
 
Here are some of the good things you will be doing for your body:
  • In 20 minutes, your blood pressure and your pulse return towards normal.
  • In 8 hours, the levels of carbon monoxide (a toxin in tobacco products) and oxygen in your blood return towards normal.
  • In 24 hours, your risk of heart attack is lower.
  • In 48 hours, your senses of smell and taste improve.
  • In 2 weeks to 3 months, your circulation improves, and your lung function increases up to 10%. This gives you more energy for walking and other types of fitness.
  • In 3 to 9 months, the coughing, sinus congestion, and shortness of breath characteristic of smokers diminish, and you experience less fatigue.
  • In 5 years, your risk of stroke is the same as that of a person who never smoked.
  • In 10 years, your risk of lung cancer is reduced to half of what it was when you smoked. And your risk of other types of cancer (such as oral cancer) is also decreased.
  • In 15 years, your risk of heart attack is the same as that of a person who never smoked.
In addition to the health benefits, smoking cessation has many other rewards. To some people, these advantages may be even more valuable than good health:
  • You will gain confidence.
  • You will save money.
  • You will look better (your teeth will be whiter, and you'll have fewer wrinkles).
  • Your clothes and your home will smell better.
  • Food will taste better.
  • The health of your children will improve.
Getting Over the Hump
 
The decision to quit smoking may be very difficult for you, especially if you are giving up something you love to do. When you initially quit, you will probably notice only negative effects: a lack of patience, lethargy, and cravings, to name a few. This makes quitting even more of a challenge.
 
Keep in mind, however, the long-term benefits of quitting. It takes patience and dedication, but the rewards are many. And by quitting, you can enjoy a healthy life for years to come.

 

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Last updated June 09, 2014


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