A common misconception among long time smokers is that the bodily damage caused by smoking cigarettes is permanent, that years of using tobacco invariably leads to irreversible internal harm.
While it is true that smoking does cause heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory conditions and dozens of other serious health issues that can prove fatal, a lifetime of tobacco use does not necessarily have to end in a hopeless dead end.
In fact, according to statistics, quitting smoking at any age greatly reduces the risk of developing diabetes, coronary heart disease, lung cancer and more.
Repair, Rebuild, Restore: Your Quitting Timeline
Beginning with the first breaths of fresh air you take after your last cigarette, your body begins working toward repairing itself. The body’s internal systems recognise cigarette smoke and its 4,000+ chemical additives as the toxic substances they are and will begin the elimination process of these poisons as soon as possible. In their wake, damaged and compromised cells prepare to regenerate.
20 minutes – Though the majority of long time smokers no longer experience the momentarily exhilarating sensation of an increased heart rate when lighting up, the stress on the heart is still very real with every cigarette. Within 20 minutes of having your last smoke, though, your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal, putting you at a reduced risk of eventually developing chronic hypertension and related complications.
12 hours – An excess of carbon monoxide in the blood of smokers has been shown to lead to the development of angina, coronary artery disease and other conditions that may result in sudden myocardial infarction, or heart attack. 12 hours after quitting smoking, the amount of oxygen in your blood will have increased to a normal, healthy level. Carbon monoxide levels are reduced to a normal level as well, allowing red blood cells to more efficiently transport oxygen to the heart and throughout the body.
Between 1 and 9 months – During this period of time, cilia (the microscopic organelles in your lungs and trachea responsible for keeping the lungs and airways clean) regenerate. Your body is less susceptible to infections, it is easier to breathe and exercising is more comfortable. Energy levels are higher due to an increased ability to take in and utilise oxygen.
1 year – At the one year mark, the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke is less than half of that of a regular smoker, as is the chance of developing heart disease. These risks are even further diminished if healthy diet and exercise are regular components of your daily routine.
5 years – The risk of developing oral, oesophageal, bladder and throat cancer drop by 50 percent. For women, the chances of being diagnosed with cervical cancer are now as low as those of a person who doesn’t smoke.
10 years – 10 years after making the ultimate decision to improve your life for good, your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer are cut by more than half. Pancreatic cancer becomes less of a danger as well, as does cancer of the voice box.
15 years – Once at an enormous risk of suffering from a host of debilitating illnesses associated with smoking, you’ve reached the 15 year mark. According to your now healthy heart, it’s as if you never started smoking at all. The risk of developing coronary heart disease is exactly the same now as that of someone who never lit a single cigarette.
When it comes to the long term physical effects of tobacco use, millions of smokers in the U.K today are convinced that the damage has simply already been done, unaware of the surprising ways in which the body can heal when cigarettes are taken out of the picture.
Whether you only enjoy the occasional cigarette when you’re out with friends or you’ve smoked two packs per day for years just to get you through the daily grind, it’s never too late to quit smoking. INCIG supports every smoker’s journey toward a tobacco-free lifestyle and proudly offers an extensive variety of smoking alternatives to meet a broad spectrum of unique needs.