How to stop smoking

When will I feel better if I stop smoking?

Your health will improve in just a few hours:

Time What happens
after 20 minutes Your pulse returns to normal
after 8 hours Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in your blood fall by half. Your oxygen levels begin to return to normal.
after 24 hours Carbon monoxide is eliminated from your body. Your lungs start to clear out debris.
after 48 hours There is no nicotine in your body. Your sense of smell and taste improve.
after 72 hours Breathing becomes easier. Your energy levels rise.
between 2 and 12 weeks Your blood circulation around your body improves.
from 3 to 9 months Your lung function increases by up to 10% making breathing easier.
after 1 year Your risk of having a heart attack is half of someone who still smokes.
after 10 years Your risk of lung cancer falls to half of that of a smoker.
after 15 years Your risk of a heart attack is the same as someone who's never smoked.

Information from smokefree.nhs.uk

“When you smoke, and you’ve been diagnosed with a lung condition, it scares you – so you smoke more. That’s your crutch. But you owe it to yourself to stop.”

Jane began smoking when she was 12. She finally beat her addiction to nicotine 16 years ago.

Jane telling her story about quitting smoking"I sang in folk clubs and bands with my friends. I noticed smoking was affecting my singing. I tried to stop so many times, but every time I gave in.

Then I went into hospital with pneumonia. My chest X-ray showed I had emphysema and COPD. I smoked my last cigarette that day.

Quitting was so hard, but I overcame my cravings using nicotine gum. After I quit, I felt better and better! And my singing got better too – a whole upper octave that I couldn’t reach before.

Then I came down with bad flu and a cough that wouldn’t clear - I found out I had lung cancer.

Words can't express the terrible devastation I felt. They removed my entire lung. At first, I was too weak to eat let alone chew gum – so I was weaned off the gum. I became a 100% non-nicotine addict for the first time since I was 12.

I’m still singing! I just feel so lucky. When you smoke, and you’ve been diagnosed with a lung condition, it scares you – so you smoke more. That’s your crutch. But you owe it to yourself to stop. Life is so valuable.”

Read Jane's full story

Next: What about the withdrawal symptoms? >

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Last medically reviewed: February 2016. Due for review: February 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.