What Smoking Cessation Can Do For You

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Smoking causes more deaths across the U.S. each year than alcohol use, firearm incidents, HIV, illegal drug use and motor vehicle accidents combined. It also costs approximately $96 billion per year in health care expenses. Since smoking-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, smoking cessation provides your best means of living a longer, healthier life.

The definite relationship between smoking and health issues gives smokers the greatest cause for concern, and rightfully so: Smoking damages each of your body’s organs, has direct links to many specific, serious diseases and lessens your general health. Fortunately, cessation of smoking can completely reverse minor problems and reduce drastically the risk of serious problems associated with smoking.


Lung cancer is the ailment most commonly associated with smoking and the disease that prompts most smokers to quit. Smoking is the culprit behind 90 percent of lung cancer deaths, and the 5-year survival rate is bleak unless doctors identify lung cancer in its earliest stages.

If you quit smoking, you cut your risk of lung cancer by 50 percent in 10 years.

Lung cancer, though, does not pose the only cancer risk: Smoking can cause cancer anywhere in your body. It’s estimated that 33 percent of all cancer deaths within the U.S. have a direct relationship with smoking.

Smoking cessation cuts by 50 percent your risk of developing cancer in the bladder, esophagus, mouth and throat. This risk drop occurs within five years of cessation.

Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease and coronary artery disease are interchangeable terms for narrowing of the vessels that bring oxygen and blood to the heart, and smoking is one of the leading contributors of this disease. In fact, the risk of coronary heart disease runs two to four times higher in smokers than in nonsmokers.

Coronary heart disease manifests as blood clots, decreased circulation, high blood pressure and heart attacks. These manifestations, in turn, can lead to strokes, circulatory problems and reduced mobility in addition to affecting your heart.

If you quit smoking, though, heart-related health risks begin reducing almost immediately after cessation.

12 Hours: Burning tobacco releases carbon monoxide, which you inhale. The carbon monoxide bonds with blood cells and prevents the cells from bonding with oxygen. Serious cardiovascular problems arise from reduced blood oxygen levels. After 12 hours of not smoking, carbon monoxide levels decrease and blood oxygen levels increase.

24 Hours: Smokers face a 70 percent higher rate of heart attacks than nonsmokers. After a mere 24 hours free from smoking, your heart attack risk begins to drop. The initial risk reduction is only minimal, but it will reduce more each day.

One Year: One year after smoking cessation, your risk of heart attack and other coronary artery disease drops by 50 percent.

15 Years: After 15 years of not smoking, you’ll have the same risk of heart disease as a person who has never smoked.


Smokers are two to four times more likely than nonsmokers to suffer strokes, which occur when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Brain cells undergo oxygen and food deprivation and begin to die. Strokes can result in irreversible brain damage or death.

If you cease smoking, your risk of stroke could drop to that of a nonsmoker within two to five years.

Smoker’s Cough

Your respiratory tract contains a large quantity of tiny, hair-like organelles called cilia, which have the purpose of sweeping bacteria, dust, viruses and other substances out of your lungs. Smoking damages cilia. Damaged cilia no longer remove harmful substances, so the substances mix with mucus and build up inside your respiratory tract. Smoker’s cough is your body’s attempt to clear the build-up.

When you cease smoking, the absence of smoker’s cough presents the first noticeable health benefit. Coughing and shortness of breath disappear one week to nine months after your last cigarette; however, the extent of improvement depends upon how long and how heavily you smoked.


When you smoke, your nose becomes accustomed to the smell of tobacco and can’t detect the scent of tobacco smoke lingering on your hair, skin and clothes.

Eliminating cigarettes directly eliminates the scent of tobacco on your person.

Improved Sense of Taste

Smoking decreases your sense of taste. Research shows that the quantity of taste buds doesn’t differ between smokers and nonsmokers, but smokers’ taste buds are markedly flatter. Additionally, nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes can harm and change the taste buds to further diminish your sense of taste.

Immediately upon cessation of smoking, your circulation improves, and the improved circulation repairs taste buds damaged by smoking. After 48 hours without smoking, you will regain your sense of taste.

Regardless of the number of years you’ve smoked and the number of cigarettes you smoke each day, you can reap the benefits of smoking cessation. The health risks begin dropping the day your drop your last cigarette, and you could be as healthy as a nonsmoker 15 years after your cessation date.

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