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Benefits and statistics about quitting smoking

After quitting smoking for:

  • 20 minutes, blood pressure and pulse decrease
  • 8 hours, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood are halved and oxygen levels in the blood return to normal
  • 24 hours, carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body and the lungs start to clear out the buildup of tar
  • 72 hours, breathing becomes easier, bronchial tubes begin to relax, energy levels increase
  • 2–12 weeks, circulation improves, making walking and running a lot easier
  • 3–9 months, coughing, wheezing and breathing problems improve as the lungs have room for up to 10 percent more oxygen
  • 1 year, the risk of heart attack is halved
  • 10 years, the risk of lung cancer is halved
  • 10 years, the risk of heart attack is the same as that of nonsmokers.
  • 10–15 years, risks for diseases due to smoking decrease dramatically, almost to that of someone who never smoked

Other benefits to quitting:

  • Smoke-free living can enhance your self-esteem. Knowing that you are taking care of your body instead of hurting it will help you feel a lot better about yourself.
  • If you've turned to cigarettes to cope with stress or anxiety, learning new and healthier ways to cope with these issues will enhance and strengthen your mental and emotional health.
  • You will feel more in control of your life—rather than having cigarettes control you.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, the average costs of smoking are estimated to be approximately $3,391 per smoker per year. The University of Maryland Medical Center provides a Cost of Smoking Calculator for you to estimate how much you spend on smoking. Don't forget to factor in smoking paraphernalia (lighters, etc.), your higher costs for health care, life/renter's insurance, cleaning bills, and lower resale value for your car. Ask yourself what you would rather do with that money and start making plans.

Here are some tips to quit smoking

  • Decide definitively that you want to quit.
  • Make a list of reasons for quitting, including personal reasons, health benefits and financial advantages.
  • Set a quit date within the next two weeks.
  • Identify barriers to quitting and anticipate what may make quitting difficult.
  • Make a list of people who can support your intentions to quit and let them know.
  • Clean the smell of smoke from your house and car; discard ashtrays and lighters.
  • Change habits connected with tobacco use:
    • Drive a different way to work.
    • Eat lunch in a new place.
    • Avoid places where you smoke.
  • At dinnertime, stretch out your meal. After dinner, instead of reaching for tobacco, treat yourself to a mint. Take a walk if you can.
  • Keep your hands and mind busy. Work on a crossword puzzle, knit a sweater, fix something around the house or maybe take up a new hobby.
  • Exercise to help relieve tension. Climb stairs rather than take the elevator, park the car a block or two from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
  • Indulge in a bath, massage or nap.
  • Accept praise. Quitting tobacco is difficult and you deserve credit for your efforts.
  • Talk to your doctor about quitting.

Here are some common myths about quitting smoking

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, it is estimated that more than 45 million former smokers are living in the United States today. 

Myth: Tobacco use is just a bad habit.
Truth: Tobacco use is an addiction. Nicotine can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

Myth: Quitting is just a matter of will power.
Truth: Because tobacco usage is an addiction, quitting is often very difficult. A number of treatments are available that can help.

Myth: If you can't quit the first time you try, you will never be able to quit.
Truth: Quitting can be difficult but not impossible. Usually people make several tries before being able to quit for good.

Myth: The best way to quit is "cold turkey."
Truth: Research now shows that the most effective way to quit is by using a combination of practical counseling, support and FDA-approved medications.

Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal

Nicotine is an addictive drug, which when inhaled in cigarette smoke reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body intravenously. Smokers not only become physically addicted to nicotine—they also associate smoking with many social activities.


  • Distract yourself
  • Take deep breaths
  • Cravings come and go quickly


  • Count to 10
  • Slow down
  • Be patient with yourself


  • Avoid beverages with caffeine after noon
  • Take a walk several hours before bed

Increased appetite

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make a personal survival kit; include straws, coffee stirrers, toothpicks, licorice, gum or fresh vegetables

Inability to concentrate

  • Take a brisk walk
  • Take deep breaths of fresh air
  • Simplify your schedule for a few days

Weight gain

Some smokers, not all, gain weight after quitting. Nicotine raises the rate at which your body burns calories. When smokers stop, they burn fewer calories. Additionally, quitting smoking may make food taste and smell better. Nicotine is an appetite suppressant and without it some quitters tend to eat more, resulting in weight gain.

Weight management tips

Start slowly if you haven't been active and work from there. Exercise is good for maintaining your weight, and has the added benefit of releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormone. Walking is a great place to start. Use a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps a day. Pedometer use is associated with increased physical activity, reduced blood pressure and minimal weight gain.

Drink water
It's a great craving buster and helps to flush toxins out more quickly once you stop smoking. By keeping yourself well-hydrated, you'll feel better in general. If you don't like water, try other low calorie drinks.

Keep healthy snacks within reach
Put some good-for-you snacks together ahead of time so that when the munchies hit, you can grab something healthy.

Distract yourself
Urges to smoke can mimic cravings. Distract yourself and wait for the urge to pass.

Avoid empty calories
Junk food like chips, ice cream, cake and cookies are loaded with "empty" calories that have no nutritional value. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These will keep you full longer and your blood sugar stable.