Holy Smoke! 15 Surprising Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Around this time every year, people make resolutions to quit smoking for good. It’s important to your heart and lungs to quit smoking and improve your overall health. Find out how cigarettes affect your health and learn what happens to your body from the moment you decide to quit smoking. If you decide now is the time to make that resolution and finally quit smoking, sign-up today for our smoking cessation class or call (515) 574-6258. 

20 Minutes

Only 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure will drop closer to normal levels. Nicotine harms the insides of blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen the heart receives, making the heart beat faster and the damaged blood vessels work harder. This very short period of time allows your body to begin to repair itself.

2 Hours

Within two hours of smoking your last cigarette, your peripheral circulation will improve. Peripheral veins and arteries are located in the arms, hands, legs and feet and supply oxygen to the body. As your body rids itself of the chemicals in cigarettes, your hands and feet will start to feel warmer.

12 Hours

Around 12 hours after quitting smoking, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood drops back to normal. Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the blood cells making it so that your heart is not getting enough blood. Once the carbon monoxide is gone, there is more oxygen in your body.

24 Hours

After one day, your risk of heart attack drops. People who smoke have a 70% higher chance of having a heart attack because of the cardiovascular dangers associated with smoking. Smoking also increases your risk for blood clots, another major issue related to heart attacks. 

3 Days

By day three, there is no more nicotine in your body. Each time you smoke, the nicotine your body needs to get that “buzz” is amped up and requires more frequent cigarettes. This cycle leads to addiction. 

2 Weeks

Two weeks after quitting circulation and lung function improve. As stated above, cigarette smoke damages your blood vessels. As time progresses, they will begin to repair themselves. Even in a small amount of time, like 14 days, your body is becoming more healthy.

1 to 9 Weeks

Around one to nine weeks after quitting, "smoker" norms become less pronounced. Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. You will be able to do physical activity without feeling winded or sick. Your withdrawal symptoms will also start decreasing.

1 to 9 Months

One to nine months after quitting, the lungs will begin to repair themselves. Even the smallest of functions within the lungs will begin to work properly and shortness of breath and coughing will decrease even further. 

1 Year

About one year after quitting, the risk of getting coronary heart disease is only half as high as smokers. Smoking has been proven as the direct cause for 1 in 5 heart disease deaths. The risk of developing heart disease is two to four more times as likely in smokers. This risk decreases by half when you quit smoking.

2 to 5 Years

Between two and five years after quitting, the risk of developing mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder cancers is reduced by half. Women’s risk of cervical cancer is also decreased.

5 Years

After five years, your risk of having a stroke drops to the same risk levels as nonsmokers. Smoking accelerates the development of blood clots, which are a factor in strokes. Quitting alleviates this stressor. 

10 Years

Within 10 years after quitting, your risk of dying from cancer is now half that of a smokers'.

15 Years

Starting 15 years after quitting tobacco, your risk for heart disease is now the same as if you had never smoked.

20 Years

After 20 years, it’s estimated that you have saved over $71,000 by not buying cigarettes.


Congratulations, you have added several years to your life by quitting smoking. All of the risk factors about have been decreased or eliminated.

Join everyone during the Great American Smokeout and quit smoking today. It’s important to your health and your loved ones. Take a step in protecting yourself by having your heart and lungs screened at UnityPoint Health - Fort Dodge as well as signing up for the next smoking cessation class offered this January.