Health Benefits During the Months of Smoking Cessation

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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.

Smoking cessation is hard work for most new ex-smokers, so it is helpful to know that the fruits of your labor will not take long to start showing up.

Let's take a look at what you can expect during the first nine months of smoking cessation.

Physical Improvements

Starting as early as a month after you quit smoking and continuing for the next several months, you may notice significant improvements in your respiratory health. You will probably experience some or all of the following:

  • less coughing
  • less shortness of breath
  • fewer issues with sinus pain and congestion

New Cough

Once the assault of cigarette smoke exposure to delicate lung tissue stops, cilia in the lungs begin to regrow. This sometimes causes a new cough to temporarily emerge because the job of cilia is to move particulates we breathe in back out of the lungs. Cilia get "stuck" when they are clogged with tar, but begin to function again after smoking cessation, helping to remove cigarette tar and other toxins from cigarette smoke that are in the lungs.

Breathing Improvements

Likewise, breathing often improves once we quit smoking. Shortness of breath is a sign of COPD, a progressive lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It is primarily a smoker's disease, and quitting tobacco is the best way to halt further damage.

The toxins in cigarette smoke also irritate the sinuses and can cause congestion and dull our sense of smell. Ex-smokers often notice improvements with this as well during the first year of smoking cessation.

It's important to remember that healing from nicotine addiction is a process, and while some improvements happen quickly, others will come more gradually.

For instance, you may notice that a habitual cough you've carried with you for years is much reduced (or gone) within weeks of quitting, but your sense of smell hasn't improved. Then, months into cessation, you suddenly realize you can smell subtle scents that have evaded you for a long time. This is not uncommon, so don't despair if some of the benefits don't manifest on the timeline you expect.

Psychological Improvements

Your sense of empowerment will start to grow as the months go by and you are still smoke-free. Quitting tobacco is a confidence booster, and that has the potential to bring positive change to other areas of your life as well.

Stay the course. While noticeable benefits begin to emerge during this time period, smoke-free life is still new and fragile. Protect and nurture your quit program through education about what to expect as you recover from nicotine addiction.

For all of the work it takes to clear the many associations we've built up between smoking and our daily lives, it is a must. Breaking those connections and replacing them with healthy responses is part of the process of recovery from nicotine addiction.

Smoking cessation takes time, so settle in and let the smoke-free days pile up. Soon enough you'll be noticing the improvements listed above and so much more. Benefits continue after a year of smoking cessation.

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