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What are the benefits of giving up smoking?

Dr Luke Powles
Clinical Director, Health Clinics Bupa Global and UK
08 June 2021

Did you know that from the first day you stop smoking your health will start to improve? Even if you already have some health problems from smoking, you can still improve your health by quitting. Some of these problems might even get better or go away when you quit. Here I share some information about these positive changes.

The benefits within days of giving up smoking

The first few days of going without smoking are often the hardest. This is because you start to experience nicotine withdrawal. However, it’s good to remember that the benefits of quitting start from the very first day you give up.

  • Just 20 minutes after you have your last cigarette, your pulse and blood pressure will start to reduce.
  • Within 12 hours, the amount of oxygen in your blood returns to normal.
  • In the same amount of time, the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood will be reduced by half. By the second day, it will be gone completely.

The benefits within weeks of giving up smoking

If you manage to stop smoking for a few weeks, you will start to see even more benefits.

  • As early as two weeks after you stop, your circulation starts to improve.
  • After about two weeks, your sense of taste will start to get better.
  • After a month, your skin may appear less grey and any wrinkles might be reduced.

The benefits within the first year of giving up smoking

As you start to count months of not smoking, even bigger changes start to happen inside your body.

  • As quickly as one month after giving up, you might notice you cough less and that your breathing improves.
  • Between three and nine months after quitting, your lung function can increase by up to 10 per cent.
  • By the end of the first year, your risk of a heart attack will drop by half.

Also, after a year of not smoking, the average person will also have saved around £1682 that would otherwise have been spent on cigarettes.

Longer-term benefits of giving up smoking

If you manage to quit completely, your risk of some very serious health problems is greatly reduced.

  • After 10 years of not smoking, your risk of lung cancer goes down to half that of a smoker. Risks of getting other cancers, like mouth, throat, oesophageal, bladder, and pancreatic cancer also all decrease.
  • After 15 years of not smoking, your risk of having a heart attack is the same as somebody who never smoked.

What happens to your body after you give up smoking? Click on the image below to download the PDF (PDF, 0.4MB).

image to click through to see what happens to your body after you stop smoking

Mental health benefits

As well as improving your physical heath, stopping smoking may also improve your mental health. Giving up smoking is associated with having a more positive mood, as well as feeling less stressed and less anxious.

Support for stopping smoking

Giving up smoking can be difficult, but there are some things which can support you:

  • Stop smoking services offering one-to-one help, as well as group sessions.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches or gum.
  • Medicines such as bupropion or varenicline.
  • Using e-cigarettes (also known as vaping). These are believed to be less harmful than smoking cigarettes and many people find them helpful, but they are not risk-free.

Forming healthy habits can also help you in your goal to stop smoking.


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Dr Luke Powles
Dr Luke Powles
Clinical Director, Health Clinics Bupa Global and UK

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