Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Smoking increases the mortality rates for a variety of diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airways obstruction. Simply stated, there is no safe way to smoke. Although low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes may reduce the risk for lung cancer somewhat, they do not lessen the risk for cardiovascular heart disease (CHD). In fact, smoking accelerates atherosclerosis – the depositing of plaques containing cholesterol and lipids on the inner walls of arteries. It also increases the risk for stroke.

The risk for CHD increases along with the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Quitting smoking sharply lowers the risk, even in the first year and no matter what a person's age. Quitting also reduces the risk for a second heart attack in those who have already experienced one.

No matter how long you've smoked, quitting has immediate benefits. Within minutes after you smoke that last cigarette, your body begins a series of changes that continue for years.

Timeline for Benefits of Quitting

  • 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, and your lung function begins to improve.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting, your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • 1 year after quitting, your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker's risk.
  • 5 to 15 years after quitting, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker's.
  • 10 years after quitting, your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker's. Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is now the same as that of a non-smoker's risk.

Additional Benefits

Quitting smoking has long-lasting benefits for you, your family, and those around you. Some of the benefits include:

  • You will live longer and live better.
  • You will lower your chance of having a heart attack, stroke, or cancer.
  • If you are pregnant, quitting smoking will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.
  • The people you live with, especially your children, will be healthier.
  • You will have extra money to spend on things that are really good for you.

Special Conditions

While the benefits of quitting smoking affect everyone, your own personal situation or condition may give you even more special reasons to quit:

  • Pregnant women/new mothers: By quitting, you will protect your baby's health and your own.
  • Hospitalized patients: By quitting, you reduce health problems and accelerate your healing.
  • Heart attack patients: By quitting, you reduce your risk of a second heart attack.
  • Lung, head, and neck cancer patients: By quitting, you reduce your chance of a second cancer developing.
  • Parents: By quitting, you protect your children from illnesses caused by second-hand smoke, and set a good example.

Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

© 2018 National Volunteer Fire Council. All Rights Reserved.