the benefits of quitting smoking

Quitting tobacco is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health.1 Despite what you may think, it is never too late to quit smoking! In fact, you can experience several benefits of quitting smoking within minutes of cessation and can enjoy the benefits of quitting for years to come. As soon as a person quits, his or her body begins to heal:

  • 20 minutes after quitting: heart rate and blood pressure drop
  • 12 hours after quitting: the carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: blood circulation improves and lung function increases
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting: coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Structures in the lungs begin to heal and clean the lungs, reducing that person’s risk of infection. This is critical in fighting illnesses that threaten lung health, such as bronchitis
  • 1 year after quitting: the risk of coronary heart diseases is half that of someone who smokes. Risk of heart attack decreases significantly
  • 5 years after quitting: risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancer is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk is now that of a nonsmoker. Risk of stroke falls to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years
  • 10 years after quitting: risk of dying from lung cancer is half that of a smoker
  • 15 years after quitting: risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a nonsmoker

Along with these great benefits, quitting tobacco use also reduces the risk of diabetes and improves the health of blood vessels, the heart and the lungs.2

Kicking the tobacco habit offers some other rewards that you’ll notice right away and some that will show up over time. here are just a few other benefits you may notice:

  • Food tastes better
  • Your sense of smell returns to normal
  • Your breath, hair, and clothes smell better
  • Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing
  • Ordinary activities (i.e., climbing stairs or light housework) leave you less out of breath
  • You can be in smoke-free buildings without having to go outside to smoke.

Quitting also helps stop the damaging effects of tobacco on how you look, including premature wrinkling of your skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.2

Help quitting tobacco is free! Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center (GSAHEC), as part of the Tobacco Free Florida AHEC Cessation Program — offers free tobacco cessation sessions that are available to help someone quit all forms of tobacco.  These group cessation sessions, held virtually and in-person, provide information about the effects of tobacco use, the benefits of quitting, and will assist you with developing your own customized quit plan. Free nicotine replacement therapy in the form of patches, gum or lozenges (if medically appropriate and while supplies last) are provided with the session. Attendees will also receive a participant workbook, quit kit materials, and follow up support from a trained tobacco treatment specialist. Contact us today at 866-534-7909 or visit our page to schedule a class or learn more about the program!



1Tools to Quit: Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Cessation Program Participant Toolkit. Area Health Education Centers. 2018.