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Health Benefits of One Smoke-Free Month
Deciding to quit smoking is a big step towards better health. But what really happens when you stub out that last cigarette? Over the span of a smoke-free month, our bodies begin to heal and recover in ways we might not even realise. In this article, we will guide you through the journey your body undertakes during those initial 30 days. From the immediate effects to the more gradual benefits, we'll provide an in-depth look at the transformative power of going smoke-free.
What is smoking?
Smoking refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling the smoke produced from burning a substance, usually tobacco, in a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. The primary addictive ingredient in tobacco is nicotine. When tobacco is smoked, nicotine is absorbed by the lungs and quickly moves into the bloodstream, where it is circulated throughout the brain. There are several health risks associated with smoking. In the UK, the NHS has identified smoking as the biggest cause of preventable deaths, leading to diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and several types of cancer.
What happens to your body when you stop smoking?
When you stop smoking, your body begins to heal and recover from the damage caused by tobacco. Here is a brief timeline of what to expect to happen to your body when you quit smoking:
After 20 minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure start to return to normal.
After 8 hours: The levels of nicotine and carbon monoxide in your blood reduce by half. Oxygen levels in the blood return to normal, which is beneficial for the entire body.
After 48 hours: All traces of nicotine are removed from your body. Your sense of taste and smell may improve.
After 72 hours: Breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes begin to relax. Your energy levels might increase.
Between 2 to 12 weeks: Blood circulation throughout the body improves. This can make physical activity, including walking, easier.
After 3 to 9 months: Any coughs, wheezing, or breathing problems should improve as the lungs repair. According to the NHS, lung function can increase by up to 10%.
After 1 year: The risk of suffering from a heart attack drops to about half compared with a person who still smokes.
After 10 years: The risk of developing lung cancer falls to around half that of a smoker. The risk of heart attack falls to the same level as someone who has never smoked.
After 15 years: The risk of heart disease is similar to someone who's never smoked.
Video: The Effects of Stopping Smoking on your Body
Bupa Health UK have put together a great video describing what happens to your body when you stop smoking which you can watch below:
How many people successfully quit smoking according to NHS data?
According to data provided by the NHS taken from April 2022 to March 2023, out of 176,566 individuals who set a date to quit smoking, 95,400 were successful, representing a 54.0% success rate. Of the successful quitters, 14.6% had their results confirmed through Carbon Monoxide verification.
Does quitting smoking improve with age?
When looking at the data taken from the same NHS report, the success rate of quitting smoking increases with age. Specifically, 46.5% of those under 18 years old managed to quit, while for those aged 60 and over, the success rate rose to 57.0%.
How many pregnant women successfully quit smoking after setting a quit date?
The NHS report showed that of pregnant women aiming to quit, out of the 13,846 who set a date, 6,389 were successful, which is a 46.1% success rate. Of these successful pregnant quitters, 30.9% had their results verified using Carbon Monoxide testing.
Does quitting smoking make you look more attractive after 1 month?
As smoking has been linked to premature skin ageing, often referred to as 'smoker's face', some individuals become concerned about its impact on their appearance. Quitting smoking is linked to an increase in skin lightness, possibly corresponding to a decrease in haemoglobin. This suggests that skin improvement can be noticed within a few weeks of quitting smoking, and such improvements can potentially be used as an additional motivator for those trying to quit (Ishiwata et al, 2012).
Does quitting smoking make you less stressed after 1 month?
Quitting smoking can initially increase feelings of stress and anxiety due to nicotine withdrawal, as nicotine has addictive properties that affect mood and stress levels. According to the NHS, however, quitting smoking can lead to reduced stress levels. Not quitting smoking can also be due to mental health conditions.
Angela Wu, lead author and Researcher in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, said: ‘While we are seeing a large decrease of smoking rates over the years in the UK for the general population this is not the case for people living with mental health conditions. The number of people smoking who also have a mental health condition has remained the same since 1993 (approximately 40%).”
Does quitting smoking improve blood pressure after 1 month?
Yes, quitting smoking can have a positive impact on blood pressure (Tsai et al, 2021). Within just 20 minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure start to return to more normal levels. Over the days following cessation, the absence of nicotine and reduced intake of carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals from cigarette smoke allows blood vessels to function more effectively, helping to improve circulation and decrease blood pressure. Despite this, people who quit smoking will not notice any significant improvements in blood pressure for at least 6 weeks (Puddey et al, 1985).
Does quitting smoking improve heart rate after 1 month?
Yes, quitting smoking does have a positive effect on heart rate, both immediately after cessation and in the longer term. Within just 20 minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your heart rate begins to drop back towards normal levels. After about a month, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard because it is no longer exposed to the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, which cause the heart to beat faster. This reduction in workload helps to lower the resting heart rate. Additionally, the overall health and efficiency of the heart can improve, further promoting a stable and healthier heart rate. Quitting smoking can also help to improve coronary vaso-motor abnormality, which can lead to symptoms similar to those of coronary artery disease, such as chest pain (angina) (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2020).
Does quitting smoking improve lung function after 1 month?
Yes, quitting smoking begins to improve lung function relatively soon after cessation, although the most significant benefits accumulate over a longer period. Quitting smoking can prevent problems such as lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It is widely known that quitting smoking can lead to various health improvements, as well as improving lung function (Toll et al, 2014).
Does quitting smoking help you live longer after 1 month?
Quitting smoking undoubtedly increases life expectancy and reduces the risk of smoking-related diseases. However, the benefits of quitting smoking, while immediate in some aspects, often become more pronounced over longer durations. After 1 month of no smoking, the risk of heart disease begins to drop, and lung function continues to improve. It is important to note that age should not affect when you quit smoking as quitting at any time can improve life expectancy (Taylor et al, 2002).
Which treatments are available to help you quit smoking at UK Meds?
If you are looking for treatments to help you quit smoking, UK Meds are here to help. Our range contains a wide variety of products including sprays, lozenges and patches that can help you to quit smoking.
Scott is an experienced and professional content writer who works exclusively for UK Meds.