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Benefits of Quitting

  • Within twenty minutes after you smoke that last cigarette, your body begins a series of changes that continue for years.
  • 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate drops.
  • 12 hours after quitting: Carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your heart attack risk begins to drop; your lung function begins to improve.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting: Your coughing and shortness of breath decreases.
  • 1 year after quitting: Your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
  • 2 to 5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker's 2-5 years after quitting; your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is halved within 5 years.
  • 10 years after quitting: Your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smokers; your risk of cancers of the kidney and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a nonsmoker's.


  • Quitting smoking at any age has benefits.1
  • The sooner you quit, the sooner your body can begin to heal.1,2
  • Tobacco smoke harms nonsmokers, too.1,3
  • Quitting smoking is the single best way to protect your family from secondhand smoke.4

Reduced Risk for Various Health Issues1,2

Some benefits of quitting smoking occur quickly; more occur over time. For example:

  • Your risk for a heart attack drops sharply just 1 year after you quit smoking.
  • After 2 to 5 years, your chance for stroke could fall to about the same as a nonsmoker’s.
  • Within 5 years of quitting, your chance of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half.
  • Risks for other conditions—including ulcer, peripheral artery disease, and cancers of the larynx, lung, and cervix—are reduced after quitting.
  • The risk of having a low birth weight baby drops to normal if you quit before pregnancy or during your first trimester.

 

Lab technician examining an x-ray of someone's lungs

Other Benefits of Quitting

  • Health benefits for people with diabetes who quit smoking begin immediately and include having better control over blood sugar levels.1
  • If you quit smoking, you will breathe better and it will be easier to be active.1
  • By not smoking, you help protect family, friends, and coworkers from health risks associated with breathing secondhand smoke. These include an increased risk for heart disease and lung cancer among adults. For babies and children, risks include respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).1,3
Doctor using a stethoscope to examine a patient

References

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2013 June 5].
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004 [accessed 2013 June 5].
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General: Secondhand Smoke: What It Means To You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006 [accessed 2013 June 5].
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General: Highlights: How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Secondhand Smoke. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006 [accessed 2013 June 5].

 


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