University of Wisconsin–Madison

Fact Sheet #7: What Happens When You Quit Smoking

Quitting improves your appearance:

  • Healthier skin.
  • Fresher breath.
  • Whiter, healthier teeth.

Other benefits:

  • Your clothes and hair smell better.
  • Your senses of taste and smell improve.
  • Work and exercise without losing your breath.
  • You’ll have more money.

REAP THE BENEFITS – FAST.

Everyone knows your health improves when you quit smoking/chewing. But you might be surprised at how fast it happens.

20 minutes after quitting: Your blood pressure drops to a level close to that before the last cigarette. The temperature of your hands and feet increases to normal.

12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood begins to drop to normal.

24 hours after quitting: Your chance of a heart attack decreases.

2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation and lung function improve.

1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to clean the lungs and reduce infection.

1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a tobacco user.  

5-15 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.

10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing tobacco user. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decrease.

15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease falls to that of a nonsmoker’s.

Sources: U.S. Surgeon General’s Reports