Are Some Of the Personal Benefits and Rewards If You
Within 12 hours
after you have your last cigarette, your body will begin to heal
itself. The levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in your system will
decline quickly, and your heart and lungs will begin to repair the
damage caused by cigarette smoke.
Within a few days
you will probably begin to notice some extraordinary changes in your
body. Your sense of smell and taste may improve. You will breathe
easier, and your smoker's hack will begin to disappear, although you
may notice that you will continue to cough for a while. And you will
be free from the mess, smell, inconvenience, expense, and dependence
of cigarette smoking.
As your body
begins to repair itself, instead of feeling better right away, you may
feel worse for a while. It's important to understand that healing is an
ongoing process. It begins immediately, but it continues over time. These
"withdrawal pangs" are simply symptoms of the recovery process.
Right after quitting, many ex-smokers experience "symptoms of
recovery" such as temporary weight gain caused by fluid retention,
irregularity, and dry, sore gums or tongue. You may feel edgy, hungry,
more tired, and more short-tempered than usual and have trouble
sleeping and notice that you are coughing a lot. These symptoms are
the result of your body clearing itself of nicotine, a powerful
addictive chemical. Most nicotine is gone from the body in 2-3 days.
It is important to
understand that the long range after-effects of quitting are only
temporary and signal the beginning of a healthier life. Now that
quitsmoking, you've added a number of healthy productive days to each
year of your life. Most important, you've greatly improved your
chances for a longer life. You have significantly reduced your risk of
death from heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and
several kinds of cancer, not just lung cancer. (Cigarette smoking is
responsible every year for approximately 130,000 deaths from cancer,
170,000 deaths from heart disease, and 50,000 deaths from lung
Benefits If You
indicated, information in this section comes from Quit Victoria, 1995
The 1990 Report of
Surgeon General is devoted to
smoking cessation, and has reached the
following major conclusions:
has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages.
Benefits apply to persons with and without smoking-related disease.
live longer than continuing smokers, and the benefits of quitting
extend to those who
quit smoking at older ages. For example, persons
who quit smoking before age 50 have one-half the risk of dying in the
next 15 years compared with continuing smokers.
decreases the risk of lung cancer, other cancers, heart attack,
stroke, and chronic lung disease.
Women who stop
smoking before pregnancy or during the first 3 to 4 months of
pregnancy reduce their risk of having a low birthweight baby to that
of women who never smoked.
smoking cessation far exceed any risks from the average
2.3 kg (5 pound) weight gain or any adverse psychological effects that
may follow quitting smoking.
has confirmed that if you
quitsmoking at any age you increase life
expectancy, provided that if you
quite smoking prior to the
development of cancer or other serious disease. Those who
before the age of 35 have a life expectancy that is not significantly
different from non-smokers. For those who
stop smoking later, the risk
is intermediate between non-smokers and continuing smokers. Even those
stopsmoking between 65-74 years of age experience age-specific mortality
rates beyond age 75 years appreciably lower than those who do not
carbon monoxide leave the body in the first few hours after you
stopsmoking, although it may take up to two days for nicotine by-products
to leave the body. Within a month of smoking cessation, blood pressure
returns to the normal level, and lung function has improved. After
around three months, the lungs may have regained the capacity to clean
themselves properly, depending on whether irreparable lung damage has
occurred, and blood flow to the limbs will have improved.
Long term benefits:
Ten years after
stop smoking, the ex-smoker's risk of
developing lung cancer has declined to between 30-50% of the risk in
continuing smokers, and risk continues to decline with abstinence. If
quit smoking it also lowers the
risk of laryngeal cancer, and reduces the extent and severity of premalignant cellular changes in the lining of the larynx and the
halves the risk of mouth and oesophageal cancers after five years of
quitting. The risk of pancreatic cancer is also reduced, although this
may only be measurable after ten years of abstinence. The risk of
bladder cancer reduces after a number of years, but studies have
conflicting findings about extent. The risk of cervical cancer is
substantially lower among former smokers than current smokers, even in
the first few years following smoking cessation.
Reducing Cardiovascular Disease
greatly reduces the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Risk of
mortality is reduced by about half one year after smoking cessation,
then declines gradually. After around 15 years of abstinence, the risk
of CHD is similar to that of never-smokers. For those cigarette
smokers with diagnosed CHD,
stop smoking appears to reduce the
risk of recurrent infarction and cardiovascular death by 50% or more.
Smoking cessation substantially reduces the risk of developing
peripheral vascular disease, and improves management of the existing
Smoking cessation also reduces the risk of ischaemic stroke
and subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Reducing Respiratory Disease
reduces rates of respiratory symptoms such as cough, sputum production
and wheezing, and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and
pneumonia. In smokers with established chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), stopping smoking improves pulmonary function by about
5% within a few months of
smoking cessation. The accelerated decline
in lung function in smokers stops with
smoking cessation, returning to
the far slower rates of decline that naturally occur with aging. With
sustained smoking abstinence, mortality rates from COPD among former
smokers decline in comparison to smokers who do not
The US Surgeon
General has stated that 'smoking is probably the most important
modifiable cause of poor pregnancy outcome among women in the United
smoking before becoming pregnant, or who
quit smoking in the first
three to four months of pregnancy, have infants with the same birth
weight as those born to women who have never smoked. Those women who
stop smoking any time up to the 30th week of pregnancy have babies
with higher birth weight than those who smoke throughout pregnancy.
Reducing the number of cigarettes smoked, rather than quitting
completely, does not appear to benefit birth weight of the baby.
women to reach menopause one to two years early, but former smokers
have an age at natural menopause similar to those who have never
Other disease processes
Smokers have an
increased risk of developing duodenal and gastric ulcers. The
increased risk is reduced by
stopsmoking. Ulcer disease is more
severe, less likely to heal, and more likely to recur in smokers.
Affected smokers who quit do better than continuing smokers.
and the older smoker:
As mentioned above,
smoking cessation at any age carries benefits for the smoker, reducing
the risk of major disease.
Cigarette smoking in later life has also
been associated with higher rates of physical disability, poorer
self-perceived health status, higher levels of depressive symptoms,
and lower levels of physical function, bone mineral density, pulmonary
function, and muscle strength.
Smoking cessation therefore is an
important factor in bringing about improvement in general health and