Quit smoking for immediate health benefits and 4,000 other reasons

When you quit smoking, health benefits are measurable in the first 24 hours. If that is not enough motivation to stop there are at least 4,000 more reasons to choose from. Photo: Matt Trostle

CHICAGO August 14, 2012 - It is amazing how quickly the body repairs itself when given the opportunity. One incentive to stop smoking is knowing that you are doing more than preventing your health from getting worse. You are giving your body a chance to rejuvenate, and some of it happens sooner than you may think. 

It isn’t too often that we stop a nasty habit and get measurable results within 24 hours; but quit smoking and you will. Your body is so thrilled to be free from tar and nicotine it lets you know it’s pleased right away. 

DAY 1   

Only 20 minutes to two hours after your last cigarette your pulse rate, blood pressure, and the temperature of your feet and hands return to normal. Remember how wonderful this is when the initial signs of nicotine withdrawal appear. 

Eight to twelve hours after the last puff, your oxygen blood level rises to normal as the oxygen blocking carbon monoxide count falls. 

After a mere 24 hours, you have already decreased your risk of heart attack. Not lighting up might have been difficult, but the health benefits are already huge since the risk of heart attack for smokers is 70% higher than for those smoke-free.

DAY 2: Within 48 hours of throwing your last pack away, you will begin to regain your pre-smoking ability to smell and taste. This happens because damaged nerve endings start to regrow; bon appetite.  

WEEKS 2 to 12: During this time your lung function will improve up to 30% and your blood is circulating better. Walking, or any physical endeavor, will become easier.  

MONTHS 1 to 9: The cilia in your lungs regrows meaning the lungs are regaining their ability to manage mucous. Your risk of lung infection drops, and you will notice less sinus congestion, coughing, shortness of breath and have more energy. 

Year 1: After the first smoke-free year you will have lowered your risk for heart disease to half of what it was before quitting.  

Years 5 - 15 (congratulations!): Your risk of getting smoking related cancers or having a stroke has dropped, and will continue to do so. After living smoke free for 15 years, your risk of heart disease will be that of non-smokers. 

4,000 More Reasons to Quit 

Cigarettes contain over 4,000 ingredients, and only of few of them are harmless. There is chocolate, yeast, wine, and beeswax, but look at some of the other chemicals that enter the body with cigarette smoke: 

Cyanide: a poison

DDT: the stuff banned from insecticides

Formaldehyde: it preserves dead things

Napthalene: found in mothballs (those things Mom said were not candy)

Butane: the gas in lighter fluid

Arsenic: in rat poison

Cadmium: you’ll find it inside batteries

Ammonia: in household cleaners 

Those eight chemicals alone are enough to justify calling cigarettes poison-sticks. Many of these chemicals were added to enhance the taste of cigarettes by reducing bitterness. Other chemicals are in there to increase the effects of nicotine.

Ammonia is added to cigarettes because it makes the vapor form of nicotine more easily absorbed by the lungs, giving the smoker a larger nicotine jolt with each inhale.

Another chemical that is much like rocket fuel (maybe dimethylnitrosamine) allows the tip of a cigarette to burn at extremely high temperatures. This vaporizes the nicotine so it is more easily absorbed by the body. 

All this corrosive body gunk starts to be eliminated the first hour you quit smoking. It may take 15 years or more to wipe out all traces, but the benefits of quitting begin in the first 20 minutes.

You do not have to wait years to get healthy results, and you will have on average 14 extra years of life to enjoy them.


Begin your stop smoking journey at Healthline.com. Learn about quitting aids, maintaining motivation, getting support, managing nicotine withdrawal, and much more.





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Jacqueline Marshall

Jacqueline Marshall is a writer for Help For Depression, and freelances primarily in the areas of psychology and personal development. She has a MA in Counseling Psychology and is a licensed therapist living near Chicago.

Jacqueline has experience helping those diagnosed with severe, persistent mental illness, and in providing general therapy services for individuals, couples, and families. Prior to counseling, she worked in graphic design and music education.

When not writing or counseling, Jacqueline enjoys reading literature and math-less books about quantum physics. She is a published poet, and has studied animal communication and energy healing.  


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