Stop Smoking Timeline

See the benefits after:
  • Hours

  • Weeks

  • Months

  • Years

Quitting smoking is a struggle. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the world, but ridding yourself of it is well worth the battle. The health effects of stopping smoking are amazing. They’ll kick in almost immediately and you should start feeling the full force of the benefits within a matter of days. To show just how good kicking the habit is for your health, we’ve put together a handy stop smoking timeline, which details how your body will react when you quit smoking.
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    20 minutes - Last Cigarette

    After you have your last cigarette, your body will undergo a series of positive changes that’ll persist for years to come.

    Within 20 minutes, the effects of the chemicals in cigarettes that cause your heart to beat faster will wear off - bringing your heart rate down to normal and reducing your blood pressure.



    2 hours - Heart beats reduced

    At this point, the rate at which your heart beats will have reduced to nearly normal and you’ll see a similar drop in blood pressure.

    The circulation of blood around your body will also improve and you may begin to feel warmth or other sensations in your fingertips.

    You may also start to feel the beginnings of withdrawal symptoms within a couple of hours, including anxiety, irritability, insomnia and general cravings.


    8 hours - Reduced nicotine

    The nicotine in your bloodstream has reduced drastically and you may notice an increase in your cravings.


    12 hours - Carbon monoxide lowering

    The levels of carbon monoxide in your blood have been steadily lowering since your last cigarette.

    By now, your blood oxygen levels will have risen to nearly the level of a non-smoker.

    This is good news for your blood cells, which have been prevented from using the oxygen in your blood stream properly while you smoked.


    24 hours - Heart attack risk reduced

    In as little as a day after your last cigarette, your risk of suffering a heart attack will start to decrease and continue to get lower as long as you stay strong and don’t give in to cravings.


    48 hours - Damaged nerves mending

    Two days after you stop smoking, nerves that you’ve damaged by smoking will now start to mend.

    Senses like smell and taste will have improved greatly, although you may reach the peak of withdrawal symptoms like irritability and anxiety.

    72 hours

    72 hours - Free of nicotine!

    Congratulations, your body is now free of nicotine.

    You may be facing a struggle with trigger induced cravings (those brought on by situations where you’d have previously smoked), but don’t give in!



    One week - Cue-induced cravings

    Be prepared to encounter plenty of cue-induced cravings and withdrawal symptoms

    Although these should begin to wear off in the coming weeks.

    It’s helpful to have coping strategies in place, but things should get easier if you can stay strong during this challenging period.


    Two weeks - Chemical addiction worn off

    Your chemical addiction should have worn off, although cravings may carry on for a while.

    At this point, your blood circulation in your gums and teeth will have improved to the levels of a non-smoker.


    3-to-4 weeks - End to withdrawal

    You should start to see an end to withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, irritability and anxiety.

    You’ll also be able to carry out physical activities without feeling winded as your lungs have begun to clear.

    1-3 months


    1-to-3 months - Blood circulation normal

    Your blood circulation will have returned to normal compared to a none smoker and if you’ve experienced a persistent cough, this should’ve worn off.

    If you’re still coughing all the time - speak to a doctor, since this could be a sign of a more serious condition like cancer.

    Since nicotine is an appetite suppressant, you may notice the urge to eat more, or see some weight gain as a result.

    3-9 months

    3-to-9 months - cilia regrow

    The tiny hairs that protect your airways, known as cilia, will regrow during this period

    This means you’ll be better-able to deal with mucus and be at a reduced risk of infections.

    Withdrawal symptoms should completely wear off during this period.



    One year - Chance of heart disease dropped

    Your risk of coronary heart disease, strokes and heart attacks have now dropped to around half the level of that of a smoker.

    5-10 years

    5-to-10 years - Stroke chance has decreased

    The risk of you suffering a stroke has decreased to that of a non-smoker and the chances that you’ll be diagnosed with lung cancer has fallen to around half of that of a smoker.

    You’ll see similar drops in the risk of being diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus and pancreas and your chances of developing diabetes have dropped to that of a non-smoker.


    10-20 years - No loss of teeth

    In this period your chances of losing teeth and developing other oral issues will have dropped to those of a non-smoker.

    Your risk of coronary heart disease will also fall to that of someone who has never smoked, as will your risk of various types of cancer.

     Long-term benefits

    Long-term benefits - Live ten years longer

    Long-term, you can expect to live about ten years longer than a smoker and your healthy heart and lungs will mean you can continue to stay active and feel great well into old age.

    Need help quitting?

    If you're looking to quit smoking, don't go it alone. Your more than 20% more likely to successfully kick the habit with a doctor's help.

    Our GPs can talk through your plans to quit, discuss any particular challenges and if needed, prescribe medication to help you beat the cravings and say goodbye to cigarettes once and for all.

    Quit Today
    Dr Adam Simon