Today is the Annual Great American Smokeout

American Cancer Society’s website (www.cancer.org) has this terrific Q & A about quitting smoking, perfect for their event today, The Great American Smokeout. I cut and pasted the entire text section as is, below their logo:


When smokers quit – what are the benefits over time?

20 minutes after quitting

Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

    (Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification, Mahmud A, Feely J. Hypertension. 2003:41:183)

12 hours after quitting

The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

    (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1988, p. 202)

2 weeks to 3 months after quitting

Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

    (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp.193, 194,196, 285, 323)

1 to 9 months after quitting

Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

    (US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)

1 year after quitting

The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.

    (US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010, p. 359)

5 years after quitting

Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.

    (A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease – The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease Fact Sheet, 2010; and Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p 341)

10 years after quitting

The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.

    (A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease – The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease Fact Sheet, 2010; and US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. vi, 155, 165)

15 years after quitting

The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

    (Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007. p 11)

These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs. Quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.

Last Medical Review: 02/06/2014
Last Revised: 02/06/2014


Personal Note: Both my older and younger sisters smoked from the age of 13 or 14. (I did not.) My younger sister, now in her early 70s gave up smoking at the request of her children several years ago, but my older sister did not. She contracted cancer and after she was free of any signs, she went back to smoking. Again she contracted cancer and again she beat it, and went back to smoking again! The third bout with cancer killed her at age 68. We don’t have 9 lives! I was very angry with her choices, but as adults we suffer the consequences of such choices and the change must come from the person with the issue. I empathize with smokers because I believe it is an addiction, but there are many places to get help. If you are a smoker, please use today as a kickoff to quit.

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