Firstly, if you are reading this because you are quitting smoking – congratulations! A massive, fag-free pat on the back to you. It’s not easy (take it from an ex-smoker…) but it is possible.
A huge factor in my ability to finally put down the Vogue menthols was, sad but true, my own vanity. That’s right, at the age of 26 I had started to notice a few extra visits to the dentist, bad breakouts along my cheekbones after a night out and chapped lips basically all of the time. Something had to give.
When I found out about the changes that go through your body after smoking I had no doubt in my mind – my life would be better without those little twiglets of love. Smoking actually deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients meaning you might look paler than you should do or have an uneven skintone. Many of the chemicals in cigarettes deplete levels of collagen and elastin too, so the ageing process is sped up. Fine lines, wrinkles, the works are waiting for you in abundance if you are a smoker.
If that isn’t convincing enough, hopefully the below calendar can help you break the habit too.
What Happens to your body…
20 minutes after quitting:
Your blood pressure, pulse rate and the temperature of your hands are back to normal.
12 hours after quitting:
Your blood oxygen level has increased to normal. Carbon monoxide levels have dropped to normal.
24 hours after quitting (this is a bad stage):
Anxieties have peaked in intensity- bring on the cravings…
Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to come back. Anger and irritability are peaking right now, watch out!
Your entire body will test 100% nicotine-free. Withdrawal symptoms have peaked in intensity, including restlessness. Lung bronchial tubes leading to air sacs (alveoli) are beginning to relax. Breathing is becoming easier and your lung's functional abilities are starting to increase. Get to that yoga class – you will notice the difference!
The "average" ex-smoker will encounter an "average" of 3 craving episodes a day. Although we may not be "average" and although quitting time distortion can make minutes feel like hours, it is unlikely that any single episode will last longer than 3 minutes. Keep a clock handy and time them. It will help you feel in control.
The "average" ex-user is down to encountering less than 2 cravings a day, each less than 3 minutes.
10 days – 2 weeks:
Blood circulation in your gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user. A brighter, healthier smile is just over the horizon.
Anger, anxiety, lack of concentration, impatience, insomnia, restlessness and depression should be O.V.E. R. Phew!
2 weeks – 3 months:
Your heart attack risk has started to drop and lung function is getting better. Try taking the steps at the office instead of the lift… go on.
3 weeks – 3 months:
Your circulation substantially improved. Walking at a pace has become easier. Your smoker’s cough should have disappeared.
The appearance of your teeth and skin will improve over this time. Any smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath has decreased. Cilia have regrown in your lungs, thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean and reduce infections. Your body's overall energy has increased. By 9 months you should be feeling on top of the world!
Your excess risk of heart disease and has dropped to less than half that of a smoker. Go you!
By year 13 after quitting, your risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a someone who has never smoked.