The Perks of Quitting Smoking: An Hour-by-Hour Guide

For the one in five Americans who smoke, quitting isn’t easy. Now, there’s even more evidence the struggle is worth it: A recent study showed women who succeed in quitting may gain up to 10 extra years of life.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, and at least 250 are known to be harmful. Together, they harm nearly every organ in your body, contributing to one in five U.S. deaths. Ex-smokers of both genders reduce their risk of everything from aneurysms to pneumonia to stomach cancer.

Talk with your physician about help quitting today. The health benefits begin the minute you put out your last cigarette.

Here’s a timeline of how quickly your body repairs the damage wrought by tobacco.


20 minutes: Your blood pressure and heart rate drop to normal.

Eight hours: Levels of carbon monoxide in your blood drop, and your blood oxygen level returns to normal.

24 hours: Your risk of sudden heart attack, once higher than average, decreases.

48 hours: Damaged nerves repair themselves, restoring your sense of taste and smell.

Two weeks to three months: Blood flow improves throughout your body. Your wounds heal more quickly. It’s also easier to walk and breathe.

One to nine months: You’ll have more energy and fewer symptoms such as coughing, congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Tiny hair-like structures in your lungs called cilia resume clearing mucus, reducing your risk of infections.

One year: Your risk of heart disease is cut in half.

Five years: Compared to people still smoking a pack a day, you’re half as likely to develop cancer in your mouth, throat, bladder, or esophagus. Your risk of lung cancer falls by nearly 50%.

10 years: Your risks of stroke and lung cancer are similar to those of someone who never smoked.

15 years: You’re now no more likely to develop heart disease than if you’d never lit a cigarette.


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