The Health Benefits Having One Smoke-Free Year

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As of Dec. 20, 2019, the new legal age limit is 21 years old for purchasing cigarettes, cigars, or any other tobacco products in the U.S.

At one year smoke-free, ex-smokers hit an important milestone related to the health benefits of quitting smoking: The excess risk of coronary heart disease drops to half that of current smokers.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States today, and it's one of the leading causes of smoking-related death for smokers, too. Toxins in cigarette smoke cause damage to your heart in a number of ways. Carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the heart. Smoking increases your blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are hard on your heart, and the chemicals in cigarettes contribute to atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.

If you smoke, quitting is the absolute best thing you can do for your heart and for your health overall.

Give Yourself the Benefit of a Full Year to Quit Smoking

Once you decide to quit, you'll likely be impatient to be free of smoking cessation tactics. You want to reach a state of mind where cigarettes no longer hold any importance. While this should be the goal, and it's definitely achievable, give yourself some time to heal from the many associations that have built up between smoking and daily life over the years.

Relax and take the time you need to recover from nicotine addiction. Don't stress if you suddenly crave a smoke months after quitting. Old programming in our brains get triggered now and then, but the more practice you get with smoke-free living, the less often errant thoughts of smoking will pop up.

Why the Benefits of Quitting Continue to Grow Over Time

If you've put a year between you and the last cigarette you smoked, congratulations! The benefits of the positive choices you've made will continue to grow as you move forward from here.

Smoking affects who we are more than most of us realize. On an emotional level, quitting tobacco is similar to peeling back the layers of an onion to find the person you were meant to be before addiction stepped into your life.

What You Can Expect at Two Years Smoke-Free

Your chance of achieving long-term success with smoking cessation increases significantly after two years. Statistics tell us that 80 out of 100 people who stay smoke-free for two years have far less risk of relapse. Also, at around five years, your risk of stroke is the same as a non-smoker's.

Why It's Important to Get Support

Statistics tell us that only about half of those who quit smoking remain smoke-free at the end of their first year. However, with support, the odds are much improved. Fortify your quit program by connecting with others who are going through what you are, whether it's online, with counseling, by joining a group, or by quitting with your partner or friend.

If you're thinking about quitting smoking, there is no time like the present to get started. Change begins with a single first step. Stop just thinking about quitting, and start taking action. Throw the cigarettes away, and start your quit today.

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Article Sources
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  1. American Lung Association. Benefits of Quitting. Updated August 2019.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease. Updated 2014.

  3. García-rodríguez O, Secades-villa R, Flórez-salamanca L, Okuda M, Liu SM, Blanco C. Probability and predictors of relapse to smoking: results of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013;132(3):479-85. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.03.008

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