The benefits of quitting smoking

Quitting smoking is good for you and brings a whole host of health benefits, some of which you will notice after only 20 minutes.

Relaxed man in the forest

Minutes after quitting smoking

20 minutes after quitting

After 20 minutes, your blood pressure and heart rate have dropped back down to a normal level. Smokers often complain that their hands and feet are cold, but now you’ve started warming up again.

You have removed a major cause of premature wrinkles on your face.

You no longer need to worry about all the toxic substances you have breathed in with every cigarette you have smoked.

Hours after quitting smoking

8 hours after quitting

After 8 hours, the carbon monoxide in your blood stream is reduced and is almost at a normal level. Less carbon monoxide means there is more space for oxygen molecules, and the oxygen content in your blood starts returning to a normal level.

You will feel less tired, and you are now extending your life by 5–7 minutes for every cigarette that you do not smoke.

24 hours after quitting

Your risk of having a heart attack has now begun to decrease. You have saved yourself NOK 100, if you used to smoke a pack a day.

72 hours after quitting

Your lungs are now starting to recover, and your lung capacity is increasing.

You might now be suffering from fairly strong nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but if you keep going for just a few more days, you will soon start to feel better. The physical symptoms will usually have all subsided after a few weeks.

Weeks after quitting smoking

​2–12 weeks after quitting

Your blood circulation and lung capacity have now improved so much that you will notice that it is easier to move quickly. The blood circulation in your vertebrae has also increased, reducing the risk of back problems.

Your skin has now started to regain a fresh, pink glow. Your risk of gum disease is reduced, and your gums will heal more quickly. Your sense of taste and smell have improved, meaning food and drink taste better.

If you are a woman, you have increased your chances of getting pregnant, if that is what you want.

Your blood circulation has improved. If you are a man, this will improve your erectile function.

Months after quitting smoking

4–6 months after quitting

The hair-like projections in your lungs, called cilia, that move debris up and out of your airways should now be healthy and fully functional. You will cough less and produce less mucus.

Your body is now in the process of repairing the damage that smoking caused to your blood vessels. You have a much lower risk of developing blood clots than when you smoked.

You probably feel better than when you smoked.

Years after quitting smoking

1 year after quitting

You are no longer addicted to nicotine.

You have now halved your risk of blood vessel narrowing and heart attack. Your immune system has improved, meaning you are less likely to catch colds and other diseases.

Your risk of developing allergies and respiratory problems is significantly lower.

Your body is now able to recover from stomach ulcers faster, and you have a lower risk of recurrence.

In the past year, you have avoided ingesting huge volumes of toxic substances, many of which are carcinogenic (i.e. cause cancer).

If you used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day, you have:

  • saved yourself 1,000 hours that you used to spend smoking
  • refrained from smoking over 5,000 cigarettes

5 years after quitting

You no longer have an elevated risk of having a stroke.

Any pre-cancerous cells in your body are now less likely to develop into cancer. You have significantly reduced your risk of developing cancer in your:

  • mouth
  • neck
  • throat
  • bladder
  • kidneys
  • cervix
  • pancreas

If you used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day, you have now refrained from smoking about 35,000 cigarettes.

10 years after quitting

You have now cut the risk of developing lung cancer in half. 

If you used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day, you have now:

  • saved yourself one year of time that you used to spend smoking
  • refrained from smoking roughly 70,000 cigarettes.

You have significantly improved your health. If you save all the money you used to spend on smoking, after roughly 30 years you will have saved several hundred thousand kroner.

App: Slutta (helsenorge.no)

Get help to stop smoking or using snuff with the app Slutta.

Fact sheet about health benefits of smoking cessation, WHO 

The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014. 

Brunnhuber et.al: Putting evidence into practice: Smoking cessation, BMJ group 2007 

The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1990 

North D. og kolleger: Guidelines for Smoking Cessation, New Zealand 2002 

Glantz S.: Tobacco Biology & Politics, USA 1992 

Nikotinavhengighet – medisinsk-biologiske forhold, Dybing E., og T. Sanner, Tidsskriftet Den norske legeforening, 2002 

Immune function in cigarette smokers who quit smoking for 31 days, Meliska, CJ, ME Stunkard, DG Gilbert, RA Jensen, JM Martiko, The journal of allergy an clinical immunology, 1995 april 95 (4):901-10 

Content provided by The Norwegian Directorate of Health

Last updated Tuesday, December 14, 2021

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