How Quitting Smoking Affects Your Body, From The First 20 Minutes To 15 Years From Now

You may have noticed that the smoking area outside your workplace has been looking distinctly empty over the past two days. That’s because every year, millions of people around the world make one of the most difficult New Year’s resolutions of all time: to quit smoking.


Although to a seasoned smoker this might feel like one of the most difficult challenges of all time, it turns out that after just a few weeks, cravings should subside and your entire body will feel a hell of a lot better.

So, if you’re curious to see exactly how your body will transform after you throw that last smoke in the bin, simply check out the following timeline of events. Trust me, your lungs, heart, and housemates will thank you.


20 minutes

After just 20 minutes, your body starts to recover from its last cigarette. Heart rate and blood pressure slip back to their normal levels.

Eight hours

The effects of nicotine withdrawal start to kick in around about now. Once nicotine fully leaves the bloodstream, the cravings start to kick in.

24 hours

After a whole day without nicotine, your body will be fully feeling the effects of withdrawal. Cravings will be strong, and your stress levels will be high. This is the most common time period within which people give up, but if you can just hold out a little bit longer, you’ll feel a hell of a lot better.

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Two to three days

By this point, taste and smell receptors will have begun to repair themselves, meaning the food you eat will suddenly taste a lot better. At this point, your nicotine levels will be almost totally depleted, meaning your cravings will be worse than ever.

OK, OK, so things aren’t exactly looking great right now. But if you click over to the next page, you’ll see how much better things will be in just a few short weeks.

Two to three weeks

By this point your body will begin to naturally reverse the effects of smoking. You’ll suddenly notice activities like walking and running are a lot easier than they were before, thanks to increased heart and lung capacity. After two weeks, you’ll start to notice your cravings start to disappear.

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Between one and nine months

The cilia, which are the tiny hair-like structures on your lungs, will begin to repair. Once they’re able to do their job properly, they’ll be able to fight off infection and clear the lungs properly. No winter colds for you. After nine months, the effects of withdrawal should have completley gone.

One year after quitting

After a year, your risk of heart disease will be half of that of a smoker.


Five years after quitting

Smoking is known to dramatically increase the chances of a stoke. Five years after quitting, your chances will be the same as someone who’s never smoked a day in their lives.

Ten years after quitting

Smoking is the primary cause of 90 per cent of all lung cancer cases. Ten years after quitting, your chances of developing the disease will be half that of a smoker.

Fifteen years after quitting

Fifteen years after you quit, your risk of heart disease will be exactly the same as a non smoker.


Although fifteen years might seem like a long time, if you quit today, that’s one less day you’ll have to wait for the effects of your bad habit to be reversed. Go on, it’ll be the best New Year’s resolution you’ll ever make.

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