Benefits of Quitting Smoking Over Time

It’s never too late to quit using tobacco. The sooner you quit, the more you can reduce your chances of getting cancer and other diseases.

Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover:

20 minutes after quitting

Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

    (Mahmud A, Feely J. Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification. Hypertension. 2003;41(1):183-187.)

12 hours after quitting

The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

    (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1988, p. 202)

2 weeks to 3 months after quitting

Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

    (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 193, 194, 196, 285, 323)

1 to 9 months after quitting

Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs (called cilia) start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

    (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)

1 year after quitting

The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.

    (US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010, p. 359)

5 years after quitting

Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years.

    (US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010 and World Health Organization. Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p. 341.)

10 years after quitting

Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.

    (US Surgeon General's Report, 2010 and US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. vi, 155, 165)

15 years after quitting

Your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

    (World Health Organization. Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p. 11.)

These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps your heart and lungs.

Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%.

Quitting while you're younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.

Are there benefits of quitting that I’ll notice right away?

Kicking the tobacco habit offers some rewards that you’ll notice right away and some that will show up over time.

Right away you’ll save the money you spent on tobacco! And here are just a few other benefits you may notice:

  • Food tastes better.
  • Your sense of smell returns to normal.
  • Your breath, hair, and clothes smell better.
  • Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
  • Ordinary activities leave you less out of breath (for example, climbing stairs or light housework).
  • You can be in smoke-free buildings without having to go outside to smoke.

Quitting also helps stop the damaging effects of tobacco on how you look, including premature wrinkling of your skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Benefits of Quitting. July 20, 2015. Accessed at www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/how_to_quit/benefits/index.htm on September 9, 2016.

Mahmud A, Feely J. Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification. Hypertension. 2003;41(1):183-187.

Jha P, Ramasundarahettige C, Landsman V, et al. 21st century hazards of smoking and benefits of cessation in the United States . N Engl J Med. 2013;368(4):341-350.

US Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease - The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease Fact Sheet: A Report of the Surgeon General. 2010. Accessed at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/ on September 9, 2016.

US Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction: A Report of the Surgeon General. 1988. Accessed at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/ on September 9, 2016.

US Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General. 1990. Accessed at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/ on September 9, 2016.

US Department of Health and Human Services. Let’s Make the Next Generation Tobacco-free. Your Guide to the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. Accessed at at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/index.html on September 9, 2016.

World Health Organization. Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting SmokingIARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007.

Last Medical Review: September 9, 2016 Last Revised: September 9, 2016

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