Addiction Nicotine Use After You Quit The Health Benefits of Having One Smoke-Free Year By Terry Martin Terry Martin Facebook Twitter Terry Martin quit smoking after 26 years and is now an advocate for those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction. Learn about our editorial process Updated on November 10, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Armeen Poor, MD Medically reviewed by Armeen Poor, MD Armeen Poor, MD, is a board-certified pulmonologist and intensivist. He specializes in pulmonary health, critical care, and sleep medicine. Learn about our Medical Review Board Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Aaron Johnson Fact checked by Aaron Johnson Aaron Johnson is a fact checker and expert on qualitative research design and methodology. Learn about our editorial process Print Hero Images / Getty Images 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. You hit important health-related milestones when you quit smoking. The longer you go without smoking, the more your health improves. Whether you are in the first minute or the first year of your journey, these health benefits can help motivate you to stick to your smoke-free lifestyle and enjoy the rewards along the way. The Biggest Smoking Risk Isn't Lung Disease Minutes After Quitting As you work toward your goal of being smoke-free for one year, remember that you are already experiencing health benefits just moments after you quit. Even 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop, which lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis (a condition in which plaques clog the arteries). Days After Quitting Smoking adds carbon monoxide levels to your blood. Excess carbon monoxide in the blood is linked with heart disease (including heart attacks) and atherosclerosis. Just several days after quitting, this level drops into a normal range. Months After Quitting Your lung function and your circulation will improve after a few months of being smoke-free, but it can start to improve as early as two weeks after you quit. Yellowing of your teeth and fingernails stops when you quit smoking cigarettes. You'll probably notice that everyday activities that used to leave you out of breath (such as climbing a flight of stairs) become easier as your lung capacity improves. Your taste buds start to recover. Food tastes better and your sense of smell improves. You probably became used to the smell of cigarettes, but after quitting, your breath, hair, and clothes will smell better. Quitting smoking is also good for your skin. You can stop any premature wrinkling, gum disease, or tooth loss from developing when you quit. One Year After Quitting When you make it to the one-year mark of quitting smoking, it's a great time to take stock of all the important benefits your body receives. After one year smoke-free, your risk of coronary heart disease drops to half that of people who currently smoke. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of smoking-related death. Other health benefits include: Less coughing and shortness of breathCilia (hair-like structures in the lungs) regain normal function, which means they're able to clean the lungs and reduce your risk of infectionSignificantly fewer cigarette cravings In one study, participants who had quit smoking for one year reported a reduction in their cigarette cravings, less restlessness, and even fewer stressful events happening in their lives. Researchers believe that they reported less stressful events because they no longer experienced the "acute" nicotine withdrawal that happens in between cigarettes—for instance, feeling irritable or edgy until they were able to smoke again. They were no longer emotionally or physically dependent on nicotine. Benefits After One Year One to two years after quitting smoking, you have a significantly decreased risk of a heart attack. Five to 10 years after quitting, your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, and larynx decrease as well as your risk of stroke. 10 years after quitting, your risk of various types of cancer decreases, including cancers of the lungs, bladder, esophagus, and kidney. 15 years after you quit smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease significantly decreases. It is now the same as that of someone who doesn't smoke at all. Getting Support Statistics indicate 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 a counselor, in a support group, or alongside your partner or friend. You can even download a quit smoking app to receive daily encouragement and find more resources to help you quit. 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 is definitely achievable, give yourself some time to heal from the many associations that have built up between smoking and daily life over the years. A Word From Verywell Relax and take the time you need to recover from nicotine addiction. Don't stress if you suddenly crave a cigarette months after quitting. Old programming in our brains gets triggered now and then, but the more practice you get with smoke-free living, the less often thoughts of smoking will pop up. 15 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Center for Tobacco Products. Selling Tobacco Products in Retail Stores. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/retail-sales-tobacco-products/selling-tobacco-products-retail-stores Saini R, Gupta M. Nicotine poisoning In the form of smoking and its cessation. Indian Journal of Drugs. 2015;3(4):94-95. Giudice R, Izzo R, Manzi MV, et al. Lifestyle-related risk factors, smoking status and cardiovascular disease. High Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular Prevention. 2012;19(2):85-92. doi:10.1007/bf03262458 Lippi G, Rastelli G, Meschi T, Borghi L, Cervellin G. Pathophysiology, clinics, diagnosis and treatment of heart involvement in carbon monoxide poisoning. Clin Biochem. 2012;45(16-17):1278-85. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2012.06.004 Beard E, West R. Pilot study of the use of personal carbon monoxide monitoring to achieve radical smoking reduction. Journal of Smoking Cessation. 2012;7(1):12-17. doi:10.1017/jsc.2012.1 Darabseh MZ, Maden-Wilkinson TM, Welbourne G, et al. Fourteen days of smoking cessation improves muscle fatigue resistance and reverses markers of systemic inflammation. Scientific Reports. 2021;11(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-021-91510-x Chéruel F, Jarlier M, Sancho-Garnier H. Effect of cigarette smoke on gustatory sensitivity, evaluation of the deficit and of the recovery time-course after smoking cessation. Tobacco Induced Diseases. 2017;15(1). doi:10.1186/s12971-017-0120-4 Ortiz A, Grando SA. Smoking and the skin. International Journal of Dermatology. 2012;51(3):250-262. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2011.05205.x Cunningham TJ, Eke PI, Ford ES, Agaku IT, Wheaton AG, Croft JB. Cigarette smoking, tooth loss, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Findings from the behavioral risk factor surveillance system. Journal of Periodontology. 2016;87(4):385-394. doi:10.1902/jop.2015.150370 Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2017 update: A report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135(10). doi:10.1161/cir.0000000000000485 Elwany S, Shewel Y, Bazak R, Talaat I, Elwany M. Quitting smoking reverses nasal mucosal changes. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology. 2020;277(6):1691-1698. doi:10.1007/s00405-020-05896-x Schlam TR, Piper ME, Cook JW, Fiore MC, Baker TB. Life 1 year after a quit attempt: Real-time reports of quitters and continuing smokers. Ann Behav Med. 2012;44(3):309-319. doi:10.1007/s12160-012-9399-9 Courtney R. The health consequences of smoking-50 years of progress: A report of the surgeon general, 2014 US Department of Health and Human Services Atlanta, GA: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2015;34(6):694-695. doi:10.1111/dar.12309 Gallucci G, Tartarone A, Lerose R, Lalinga AV, Capobianco AM. Cardiovascular risk of smoking and benefits of smoking cessation. Journal of Thoracic Disease. 2020;12(7):3866-3876. doi:10.21037/jtd.2020.02.47 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 Additional Reading Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tobacco-Related Mortality. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Benefits of Quitting. By Terry Martin Terry Martin quit smoking after 26 years and is now an advocate for those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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