The quit smoking timeline
It’s been estimated that it can take some smokers 30 or more attempts to quit. So if you have a few hiccups along the way, that’s totally normal. But if you stay determined, there’s every chance that you can stop smoking forever.
And once you’ve quit, you’ll likely notice some positive changes in the body over time. These little milestones are massively beneficial to your health, and knowing what’s going on inside (and not solely focusing on the negative experiences of quitting smoking), can be a great motivator. This is where the stop smoking timeline comes in.
It takes just 20 minutes for signs of improvement to take effect as your heart rate will return to its normal rate. After eight hours, carbon monoxide levels are halved in the body and your oxygen levels are also increased. The carbon monoxide leaves your body completely after two days and your lungs start to recover. Your sense of taste and smell start to return to normal too. And the following day, you’ll find that your bronchial tubes can relax again, helping you to breathe more easily.
Over the next few weeks, the blood flow to your heart will increase considerably and after just three to nine months, any coughing and wheezing will disappear as your lung capacity increases. Long term, it takes just a year for your risk of a heart attack to have halved, and in ten years, the same for lung cancer risks.
As an added bonus, you won’t spend as much on tobacco. So you not only have the energy to do more, you’ll be able to better afford it too.
How smoking damages your health
Smoking increases your risk of various cancers, including cancers of the throat, mouth, liver, lungs, stomach and pancreas. And this is just a fraction of the cancers associated with smoking. Heart disease, strokes, various vascular diseases, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pneumonia and impotence in men can also all be caused by smoking.
It’s not just your own health as a smoker that’s at risk. Passive smoking (breathing in the smoke of other peoples’ tobacco) increases your chances of developing all of the conditions mentioned above by as much as a quarter, with young people at particular risk.
Quitting smoking cold turkey
Quitting cold turkey can be very difficult, and the NHS website suggests that just 3% of people that try successfully quit manage it, but separate studies suggest it’s the most effective method in some cases. The trick is to find the best approach for you and make sure you get the right support, whatever route you take.