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The Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated Nov 13, 2022

The Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking

They say that old habits die hard. But with will and determination, you can overcome these. Smoking is one of these habits that do nothing but harm your health. Here are tips on how to stop smoking effectively. 

Smoking Global Statistics

According to the World Health Organization, smoking kills an estimated 8,000,000 every year. Data also shows that 19% of adults all around the world are smokers, with men being more likely to smoke than women.

Smoking has been proven to cause a myriad of health problems like cancer. And yet, the numbers show that a considerable amount of people all across the globe still choose to smoke.

Why is Smoking Addictive?

Smoking is a difficult habit to kick because most cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance. If your body gets used to smoking, you will start craving the effects of nicotine and will soon become addicted to it. That is why it is urgent to learn how to stop smoking effectively. 

Smokers usually find smoking enjoyable because nicotine alters the levels of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain, lowering stress and anxiety levels temporarily.

Once a person’s body gets used to nicotine, a person will have to smoke more cigarettes in order to feel its effects. This is how a person gets addicted to smoking.

What Substances Are in Cigarettes?

Aside from nicotine, cigarettes also contain harmful chemicals like:

  • Arsenic. Long-time exposure to arsenic can lead to arsenic poisoning.
  • Formaldehyde. This substance is usually used as embalming fluid, but is also contained in cigarettes. When inhaled, it can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen.
  • Cadmium. Cadmium is a type of metal that is used in batteries. When cadmium interacts with the human body, it can affect the kidney, respiratory, and even skeletal system. Cadmium is also known to increase your likelihood of cancer.
  • Tar. This refers to a substance that forms when tobacco in cigarettes is burned. This poisonous substance creates a sticky layer on the inside of the lungs when it is inhaled which can lead to serious respiratory conditions like COPD and cancer.

Those mentioned above are just some of the harmful substances found in cigarettes that you will be introducing into your body every time you smoke. As these are highly poisonous, it is important to kick the habit immediately and learn how to stop smoking effectively. 

Negative Effects of Smoking

Smoking can have negative effects on your health like:

  • Stroke. Smoking makes blood vessels grow narrower which makes a person more at risk of high blood pressure and blood clots, which can inevitably lead to stroke.
  • Lung Diseases. Smoking damages the alveoli in the lungs, which can lead to various diseases of the lungs, like COPD and even lung cancer.
  • Cancer. Smoking increases a person’s risk of developing cancer in all parts of the body, not just the lungs.
  • Fertility. Smoking affects a person’s fertility, making it harder for them to conceive. 

Why You Should Quit Smoking

When you can stop smoking, you can immediately reap health benefits. Cigarettes only have adverse effects on a person’s health, and can only offer temporary relief from stress or anxiety. With the aforementioned conditions, you can try other means like meditation and breathing exercises

One of the main reasons why you should consider quitting is the simple fact that quitting smoking will add more years to your life. Quitting can also mean that your loved ones are safe from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. 

To give you a clear picture of why you should stop smoking, here are the benefits of quitting smoking hour by hour:

  • 20 minutes. Just after 20 minutes of your last cigarette, your blood pressure and heart rate returns to normal, and your lungs start working to remove the bacteria and harmful substances you inhaled by smoking.
  • 8 hours. Once you reach the eight-hour mark of going cigarette-free, the oxygen levels in your blood increase which puts your body less at risk of impaired functions. 
  • 12 hours. In just 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in your body return to normal. This means that your body will start supplying oxygen-rich blood to your cells.
  • Within just 24 hours, your risk of heart attack decreases.

Over time, if you manage to completely eliminate cigarette smoking from your life then your body is able to restore itself to its normal and healthy functions. Keeping these benefits in mind will help you deal with nicotine withdrawal.

how to stop smoking effectively

Side-Effects of Nicotine Withdrawal

Once your body gets used to the nicotine found in cigarettes, it can be much more difficult to quit smoking. This is because you undergo withdrawal.

During the first week of your attempts to quit smoking, you will feel the urge to smoke which can cause you to relapse. Other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are:

  • Having difficulty in focusing
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia, or staggered sleep
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Weight gain from increased appetite

People also report feeling flu-like symptoms, or just feeling flat-out terrible. This can make a person start to smoke again because of how terrible they feel.

If you’re suffering any symptoms from withdrawal, then you may consult your physician about Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), which can involve products like patches, gum, or even lozenges. These can help divert your attention away from your cravings.

Is It Normal for Your Chest to Hurt After Quitting Smoking?

Some people report feeling chest pain once they quit smoking, and this can definitely be part of withdrawal symptoms. You may also feel constipated or nauseous during the first few weeks of quitting. If chest pain and other symptoms persist beyond that, then it is best to contact your healthcare provider right away.

Key Takeaways

Quitting your smoking habit is the first step to becoming a healthier and better version of yourself. It can be an uphill battle trying to live a nicotine-free life, which is why it is important to remain steadfast and never be afraid of trying again. Learning how to stop smoking effectively will help you from relapsing and to more successfully live cigarette-free!

For more information about your options regarding Nicotine Replacement Therapy and other ways you can do to stop smoking, it’s best to consult a health professional.

Learn more about Healthy Habits here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated Nov 13, 2022

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