Any time is a good time to quit smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and the long-term benefits of quitting are significant. No matter how long you've been a smoker, your body will experience many benefits of being smoke-free, with some improvements happening in as little as 20 minutes after your last cigarette.
Here's a timeline of what can happen to your body after you stop smoking:
- 20 minutes: Your heart rate starts to drop.
- 2 hours: Your blood pressure and heart rate return to near normal levels and your circulation begins to improve.
- 12 hours: The amount of oxygen in your blood increases as the level of carbon monoxide in your body decreases.
- 24 hours: Your risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attack already starts to decline.
- 48 hours: Your sense of taste and smell improves. Although this doesn't affect your quantity of life, it can improve your quality of life.
- 2-3 weeks: Your lung capacity begins to increase and your heart function and blood circulation improves significantly. You should find yourself breathing more easily and being able to perform physical activities without feeling winded. If you've been experiencing withdrawal symptoms, they should start to subside around now.
- 1-9 months: Your coughing and shortness of breath should improve dramatically as the cilia inside your lungs are repaired and help keep lungs clearer. Many people no longer experience withdrawal symptoms by the end of this period.
- 1 year: Your risk for heart disease falls by half. Yes, this is a big deal!
- 10 years: Your risk for lung cancer drops to half that of a smoker (smoking accounts for 90% of lung cancer deaths). Your risk for other cancers also decreases.
- 15 years: Your risk for heart disease and lung cancer approaches that of a nonsmoker. Your risk of stroke is also the same as a nonsmoker.
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Date Last Reviewed: September 13, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor