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Quitting Smoking: A Timeline

Whether you’ve had a stressful day at work or you’re out with a persistent friend, it can be hard to resist the temptation of having ‘just one’ cigarette. You can tell yourself that smoking’s terrible until you turn blue in the face, but that doesn’t mean for sure that you won’t start up again. At times like these, it’s important to have checkpoints in your mind to keep your willpower strong. Here’s our quitting smoking timeline to help you on your journey to being smoke-free.


20 minutes: Your pulse rate takes just 20 minutes to return to normal after smoking your last cigarette. 


8 hours: The oxygen levels in your blood begin to rebalance as the carbon monoxide and nicotine levels decrease by more than 50%.


48 hours: Your senses of taste and smell begin to improve but you might not notice - by this point, your nicotine levels are low and you’ll probably start to experience signs of withdrawal. These might include anxiety and short temper, so it might be best to run your situation by friends, family and colleagues - trust us, it helps!


72 hours: Your lungs are enjoying the extra oxygen they’ve been receiving since you quit and your breathing patterns will become easier as they start to relax. However, the nicotine supplies in your body are empty and your withdrawal symptoms will be giving you all kinds of grief. This can be the hardest stage to overcome but believe in yourself - you’re stronger than you think. 


5 to 10 days: You’ll notice a reduction in the number of cravings you have, this is a sign from your body that you’re doing well.


3 to 12 weeks: Congratulations, you have passed the hardest part of quitting! At this point, your circulation starts to improve, physical activity becomes a lot easier and any sweat-inducing cravings should have ended. You are free from physical addiction - so keep it up!


3 to 9 months: Take a deep breath - your lung function has begun to improve dramatically! Forget smokers cough and wheezing every time you laugh because the risk of respiratory infections has started to decrease.


1 year: Show yourself some love! Your risk of heart disease has decreased by roughly 50%.


5 years: Pump it real good! Your blood vessels have started to widen, reducing the risk of strokes and blood clots. 


10 years: If you stopped smoking to reduce the risk of cancer, congratulations. Your risk of lung cancer has reduced by 50%, and the chances that you’ll develop other cancers (e.g. mouth, throat and pancreas) are also significantly decreased.


15 years: Your risk of developing heart disease is now the same as that of a non-smoker.


20 years: It’s been a long road but you’ve made it - the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is now equal to that of someone who has never smoked. For women, the risk of dying from any smoking-related illness is now the same as that of a non-smoker.


Regardless of whether you’re reading this at the start of your first attempt to quit, or you’re struggling through your third attempt, this timeline is here to help. We know - quitting smoking is really, really hard but just remember, it could save your life. So, the next time you’re thinking about lighting up, remind yourself of this timeline and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.  

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