QUITTING SMOKING TIMELINE
Getting nicotine out of your system takes about 3 days after you quit smoking, though it can still be detected in the saliva of heavy smokers for up to 5 days. This means that the first 3 days are the hardest to overcome, when the nicotine cravings are strongest. The body does start to recover in this time, but feelings of anxiety and depression can take centre stage and may last several weeks.
*2022 Update - Now you can quit smoking with our great-tasting UK-made liquids in the New SMOKO VAPE POD!
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF SMOKING?
Before we go any further though we should make clear why it is so important for smokers to finally quit smoking.
Every year around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking (1), with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses. Worldwide over 7 million die from those cigarettes.
Cigarettes do this in a number of ways, the most widely known one being of cause cancer. And that is for good reason as smoking causes around 7 out of every 10 cases of lung cancer.
But it isn’t just the lungs that are affected by the 50+ carcinogens found in each cigarette. Cigarettes also cause cancer all over the body, including the:
- voice box (larynx)
- oesophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach)
The toxins in each cigarette cause such damage to the heart by narrowing and damaging the veins and arteries which carry blood around your body, putting more pressure on your heart.
Cigarette smoke attacks the heart in another way, by lowering good cholesterol, which makes heart-healthy exercise harder to do (2). Smoking also raises blood pressure and increases blood clots, increasing the risk of stroke.
By smoking you are limiting the amount of oxygen which flows to the heart which yet again puts strain on the heart, but also increases a smoker's chance of a stroke. A good reason to stop smoking!
- chest infections like pneumonia and bronchitis
- ear infections
- coughs and colds
On the topic of children, if you smoke when you're pregnant, you put your unborn baby's health at risk, as well as your own.
Smoking during pregnancy (3) increases the risk of complications such as:
- premature (early) birth
- a low birth weight baby
This might seem a lot, but we haven’t even scratched the surface of what cigarettes do to a smoker’s body over time. To date we know that smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions and that number continues to rise as new studies come out. It is never too late to quit smoking!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF QUITTING SMOKING?
The good news is that most of this can be stopped so it doesn’t get worse and much of the damage is even reversible in a lot of cases! This is where a stop smoking timeline can be helpful to let you know the benefits of quitting at the important milestones.
It may take a while but your heart, lungs and the rest of your body can heal over time to the point that eventually you will have the same chance of lung cancer or heart attack as a non-smoker - these are the great benefits of quitting smoking!
Some parts of your body heal much faster though, for example your taste and smell will quickly revert to what they were like before you were a smoker so you can start enjoying your food again.
And these are just the health benefits of quitting smoking, we haven’t even mentioned the amount of money you will save by getting off the tobacco. If you are a pack a day smoker you are probably spending £70+ a week on cigarettes. That amount of money adds up quickly!
Another benefit when you stop smoking is that everything you own won’t smell of stale smoke, or take on a sickly yellow taint.
TIMELINE FOR QUITTING SMOKING
This is the stop smoking timeline to help you visualise what happens to your body when you quit cigarettes. It can be hard to motivate yourself to quit when you hear that in 15 years your lungs will be like a non-smokers, so we have broken it down to the major steps of your quitting journey.
WHAT HAPPENS IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR LAST CIGARETTE?
The 4000+ chemicals and 50+ carcinogens have just entered your body. The nicotine is working its way to your brain and any cravings are now satisfied.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 20 MINUTES SINCE FINISHING YOUR LAST CIGARETTE?
Check your pulse rate, it will already be starting to return to normal after just 20 minutes. Nicotine is a stimulant and gives that all important ‘kick’. Not long after the last puff of smoke from your last cigarette your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal following this high.
The improved blood pressure and circulation means your hands and feet will also warm up to their usual temperature.
The lungs will start to clean themselves. Fibres in the bronchial tubes that didn’t move well due to constant exposure to smoke will start to move again. These fibres help move irritants and bacteria out of the lungs, helping reduce the risk for infection.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 8 HOURS SINCE YOUR LAST CIGARETTE?
This is the first big test when trying to stop smoking. Most smokers will reach for another cigarette around the 8 hour mark as the nicotine leaves your body and the nicotine withdrawal symptoms begin to make an impact. This is of course not an issue for those who are using an E-Cigarette to make the switch!
Carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke will start to leave your body. Carbon monoxide is a chemical present in cigarette smoke that replaces oxygen particles in the blood, lowering the amount of oxygen your tissues receive.
As blood cells are replaced and aren't bonding to carbon monoxide after you quit smoking, your oxygen levels will start to spike and the carbon monoxide level in your blood will be reduced by half 8 hours since your last cigarette.
When carbon monoxide goes away, your oxygen levels start to increase to more normal levels. This increased oxygen helps nourish muscle tissues, blood vessels and your brain which were all getting less oxygen (or having to work harder to deliver the same amount) while you were smoking.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 24 HOURS OF QUITTING SMOKING
If you are trying to quit smoking without an E-Cigarette or another kind of nicotine replacement therapy, 24 hours since your last cigarette is when the anxiety and ‘stress’ levels peak.
The feeling of stress is deceptive, it is actually one of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. That’s why it’s untrue that smoking de-stresses, as smoking actually makes you feel more stressed and then “de-stresses” you back to normal.
On the plus side, by 24 hours in to your stop smoking attempt, you will have already decreased your risk of heart attack. This is because of reduced constriction of veins and arteries leading to reduced blood pressure, as well as increased oxygen levels that go to the heart to boost its functioning.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 48 HOURS FROM QUITTING SMOKING
By 48 hours since your last cigarette into quitting all of the carbon monoxide in your body will have been flushed out.
Your lungs will have begun to clear out the mucus which has built up due to smoking, this improves lung function by making air exchange between carbon dioxide and oxygen easier.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 72 HOURS SINCE QUITTING SMOKING?
Seventy to hours into your stop smoking attempt you will notice that your breathing feels easier, that’s because your bronchial tubes in your lungs have started to relax. Also your energy will be increasing due to the improved oxygen intake as your blood cells are replaced and you are free from carbon monoxide!
Three days after quitting smoking without an E-cigarette or nicotine replacement the nicotine levels in your body will be depleted. Because of this lack of nicotine most people will experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as moodiness and irritability, severe headaches, and cravings as the body readjusts since stopping smoking.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 1 WEEK OF NOT SMOKING?
This one is huge!
The one week milestone is a great indicator for your success rate in quitting smoking successfully long term. Smokers who successfully make it to one week without cigarettes are 9 times as likely to successfully give up smoking.
After one week the chemical and dependence has largely worn off, but the physiological dependence will still be demanding you start smoking again. However that dependence can still cause issues, They can range from anger, anxiety, insomnia and mild depression - managing these feelings are one of the reasons it's so hard to stop smoking.
It’s perfectly normal then to think about smoking regularly – it’s now a case of mind over matter as the body no longer physically craves tobacco.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 2 - 12 WEEKS WHEN QUITTING SMOKING?
Within two weeks of quitting smoking, you may start to notice you’re not only is the shortness of breath starting to recede, but your heart and muscles will feel much better because your circulation and oxygenation will have improved.
Also, due to better blood circulation your gums and teeth will start getting the same amount of blood and oxygen as a non-smoker. Because of this and the fact that your mouth isn’t being bombarded with smoke, tissue damaged by gum disease can recover.
After one short month, you will experience many health changes related to stopping smoking. One is feeling a sense of heightened overall energy. Another is that your hair and skin are in much better condition.
By the end of month one of stopping smoking, the nicotine withdrawal symptoms should be gone for good. If not, a trip to the GP is recommended.
After 2 months since your last cigarette, the risk of heart attack has started to drop with the aid of reduced blood pressure. With lung function improving too, climbing the stairs gets that little bit easier each day. This is when you will feel great about stopping smoking!
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 3 TO 9 MONTHS FROM YOUR LAST CIGARETTE?
Any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will start improving as your lung function increases by up to 10% when you stop smoking. The cilia in the lungs (the delicate, hair-like cells inside the lungs) will have started to recover from the damage cigarette smoke took on them.
The cilia help push mucus out of the lungs and help fight infections and with them re-growing and becoming de-clogged of cigarette tar and chemicals your lungs will feel better. Because of this you might notice a decrease in lung infections because the healed cilia can do their job more easily. Clearing out the rubbish from the lungs and not adding to it by smoking again will begin to reduce the risk of lung cancer!
After three months of smoking cessation, fertility for women will start to recover, and there is less chance her baby will be born prematurely.
Six months after you stop smoking, many ex-smokers might notice they’re better able to handle stressful events without feeling like they need to smoke.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 1 YEAR OF QUITTING SMOKING?
Great news! Your risk of heart attack will have halved compared with a smoker's.
After 5 years since stopping smoking, the body has healed itself enough for the arteries and blood vessels to begin to widen again, reducing blood pressure. This widening means the blood is less likely to clot, lowering the risk of stroke.
The risk of stroke will continue to reduce over the next 10 years as the body heals more and more (5).
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 10 YEARS OF NOT SMOKING?
More great news! Your risk of death from lung cancer will have halved compared with a smoker's.
Three years after quitting smoking, your risk of a heart attack has decreased to that of a non-smoker.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 20 YEARS OF LIVING SMOKE-FREE?
After 15 years your risk for heart attack and stroke has decreased to the same as a non-smoker. So: there you have it, then end of the stop smoking timeline!
WHAT ARE SOME TIPS FOR QUITTING SMOKING?
Here at SMOKO we are all ex-smokers and have been through all this before. An E-Cigarette has been one of the most helpful tool for millions of smokers in the UK alone to finally stop smoking and see benefits like reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of disease, heart attack, and more money in your bank account!
In the timeline above one of the major traps in there are the withdrawal symptoms while you are stopping smoking. However with an E-Cigarette you get the taste, feel and the nicotine of a cigarette, just without the 4000+ chemicals and all the carcinogens!
FIND YOUR REASON FOR QUITTING SMOKING
Have a real think about this, and keep it in mind when things get tough. Whether that is how much money you can save, the health reasons or just to stop smelling of smoke!
Exercise is a great way to help tackle cravings, help to improve lung function and can therefore help to prevent lung cancer and other diseases. It should also help you sleep which can be elusive during the early days when you quit smoking.
DON'T GO “COLD TURKEY”
Cold turkey rarely works, in fact only 1 in 300
(6) people who go cold turkey are able to quit! E-Cigarettes really work for millions of people and can let you feel like are smoking without the toxins.
AVOID YOUR TRIGGERS, FIND A NEW WAY TO RELAX
For at least the first few weeks try and avoid the activities that you link to smoking. That can be going outside when at the pub, or having your morning coffee outside.
Once you’ve gotten used to your new non-smoking life then you can think about starting to integrate these triggers back in!
SAVE THE MONEY YOU WOULD HAVE SPENT ON CIGARETTE
It can be hard to visualise how much you are saving day to day. For the first few months take the money you would have spent and put it in a jar. That way you have real, physical, proof of how much money you are saving!
DON'T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF IF YOU FAIL
Almost no-one quits smoking for good the first time. If you do fall off the wagon don’t be too hard on yourself! Instead of spiralling into full time smoker again reset the next day and carry on.
QUIT SMOKING TIMELINE - CONCLUSION
From this timeline you can see that not only is a lot of the damage from smoking reversible, you can reduce your risk of diseases such as lung cancer to almost the same levels as someone who hasn't smoked! However you need to stop smoking today to get to that 20 year milestone.
E-cigarettes are perhaps one of the best way to reach your goal, not only are they 95% less harmful than cigarettes because they don't contain harmful chemicals and produce things like carbon monoxide, they have already helped 3.2million people in the UK alone. Especially the cig-a-likes like the E-Cigarette starter kit feel like a cigarette so they feel like the cigarette you have just quit. They also give you the taste and feel of a cigarette which can help with the psychological dependence.
(1) What are the health risks of smoking?
(2) HeartUK.org: Quit Smoking
(3) Passive smoking
(4) Smoking and Infertility
(5) Stroke Foundation: Quit Smoking
(6) NHS: Quit smoking
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Written by Jonny Shaw
Jonny Shaw – Is a former smoker of 7 years before becoming a client of SMOKO E-Cigarettes. He started working with SMOKO 10 years ago after successfully quitting with our cigalike and now heads up our Customer Service. Jonny helps countless people every day to find the right solutions to quit smoking cigarettes using our range of vape and electronic cigarette products.