Quit Smoking Timeline – Benefits and Obstacles

On the quit smoking timeline, people experience numerous stages with physical and psychological consequences:

Day One
Within twenty minutes of quitting smoking, blood pressure, pulse rate, and the temperatures of smokers’ hands and feet return to normal levels. Some smokers experience problems with concentration and feelings of nausea, but these are temporary. After eight hours, blood carbon monoxide levels reduce to normal, while blood oxygen levels increase to normal. After a full day, heart attack risk declines significantly.

Day Two
As the body is slowly weaned off of nicotine, blood circulation starts to normalize. Psychologically, former smokers are often irritable and preoccupied with thoughts of smoking again, but persevering through this stage will lead to immediate health benefits.

Day Three
Nerve endings damaged by smoking start regenerating, and smokers’ senses of smell and taste improve. Nicotine cravings are more pronounced. Ex-smokers should turn to other activities for psychological relief, such as exercise or socializing.

Day Four
At this point on the quit smoking timeline, the body starts responding to the absence of nicotine. Some ex-smokers cough, because their throat and lungs will change in texture as the body rids itself of toxins.

Day Five
Quitting smoking becomes easier by this point, with more elapsed time between cigarette cravings. Breathing improves, and ex-smokers will experience improvements in their senses of smell and taste. The worst smoking cravings are gone by the end of the week.

Week Two
Ex-smokers experience improvements in their tone of voice, skin tone and texture, and the color of their teeth. Psychologically, the smell of cigarettes becomes less familiar, and easier to avoid. Many people have also stopped coughing by this point. The immune system improves, and is better equipped to fight off unrelated infections. The physical addiction to nicotine is gone, and any cravings for cigarettes would be psychological.

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Over the course of weeks and months
Lung function improves. Walking becomes easier due to improvements in circulation and breathing. After several months, coughing, clogged sinuses, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease and the body’s energy level and utilization improves noticeably. Lungs’ ability to fight infections and process mucus improves as a result of the regeneration of cilia. Withdrawal symptoms disappear within five to six months of quitting smoking.

After one year
The risk of coronary heart disease is half of what it was before quitting. Lung cancer risk reduces to half of that of a smoker who smoked one pack per day within five years.

Within ten years
Precancerous cells are replaced and the risk of mouth, throat, and esophageal cancer is half of what it was before quitting. It takes fifteen years of non-smoking for a smoker’s risk of coronary heart disease to match that of a non-smoker.

Five to fifteen years
Stroke risk declines to the level of a non-smoker.

Resist Temptation After Quitting
Statistically, less than one per thousand ex-smokers can smoke only occasionally without becoming addicted to nicotine again. All former smokers should resist the temptation to smoke recreationally, as should nonsmokers who are curious about cigarettes.

The quit smoking timeline illustrates the body’s ability to heal itself, and the tremendous utility of quitting smoking. Smokers who want to quit should not lose hope. Quitting smoking is a difficult but worthwhile goal with enough positive health effects to be well worth the effort.

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2 Responses to “Quit Smoking Timeline – Benefits and Obstacles”

  1. Fiona says:

    Hi David,

    Your quit smoking timeline has been a fantastic help to me in that it describes the plan of what I can expect as I quit. I am at week 4 now and well on the road to never going back to cigarettes.


    • David says:

      Keep up the good work Fiona…take it one day at a time and before you know it you’ll be a non-smoker. I’m delighted the information is helping you!


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