Watch what happens when you give up smoking

Dr Luke Powles
Associate Clinical Director, Health Clinics Bupa Global and UK
24 November 2021
Next review due November 2024

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.

Watch the animation below to discover what happens to your body when you quit smoking, or read on to find out more.

The benefits within days of giving up

The first few days of stopping 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 that you give up.

  • Just 20 minutes after you have your last cigarette, your pulse and blood pressure will start to reduce.
  • Within around eight 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

After you’ve stopped smoking for a few weeks, you’ll start to see even more benefits.

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

The benefits within the first year of giving up

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 that you cough less and 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.

You'll also be better off financially. The average person will save around £1,682 a year by not buying 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. Your risk 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, 1.8 MB).

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

Support for stopping smoking

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

  • Stop smoking services that offer 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.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health and a view of any future health risks. You'll receive a personal lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a happier, healthier you.

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

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