Quitting smoking is a transformation that has numerous health and other benefits. It is a lifestyle habit and though quitting isn’t always easy, due to its long term advantages, quitting can be life changing. 

Smoking, the inhalation of tobacco smoke containing the addictive chemical nicotine, is the leading preventable cause of death in Australia. It not only harms the smoker but also those exposed to secondhand smoke.

Quitting smoking brings immediate benefits like improved breathing and energy levels, while long-term advantages include restored lung health, reduced coughing and breathlessness. In the first year the risk of heart disease is halved and in 15 years time the health begins to resemble that of a non-smoker.

It is a tough journey requiring breaking the cycle of addiction and rewiring the brain to overcome nicotine cravings. Various strategies can guide how to quit smoking for a successful outcome.

A timeline of health benefits of quitting smoking

Benefits of quitting smoking start within 20 minutes of the last cigarette, with reduced risks of cancer, less risk of heart disease, and lung disease (breathing easier) the sooner one begins the process. 

Within minutes of putting out the cigarette the body begins to repair itself. The blood pressure drops, heart rate stabilises and reduces the strain on the cardiovascular system. Oxygen levels in the blood rise, providing a boost to vital organs and within hours the risk of heart attack starts to decline. 

There are significant respiratory improvements which occur as days pass without smoking. The common side effects of smoking such as cough and shortness of breath begin to diminish. Lung function increases which enables better oxygen and reduction in respiratory infections. As time passes lung capacity improves by 30% allowing for endurance and better physical performance. 

Cigarette smoking weakens the immune system. This makes individuals more susceptible to infections and illness. When a body stops smoking, their defense system regains strength, assisting immunity against diseases. Reduced inflammation and improved blood flow circulation contribute to faster healing  and lower risk of chronic conditions. 

Smoking cessation has profound long term health benefits. The risk of developing diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory disorders decreases with each smoke free day. It allows for improved odds of leading a longer and healthier life. 

The grip of addiction can impact our mental health and breaking free from it can boost self esteem and confidence, empowering individuals with better focus, concentration and emotional stability. There have been studies showing links between smoking and anxiety and depression so as the body recovers from the addiction, these symptoms subside. 

Quitting smoking also opens the door to more energy and stamina. Former smokers can find themselves more active, engage in physical activity and overall improved endurance to embrace life’s opportunities. This can allow individuals to pursue their passions which can also positively impact Mental health. 

A noticeable benefit of quitting smoking is the restoring of senses. Sense of taste and sense of smell returns allowing for everyday experiences to be enjoyed again.

Smoking can be expensive and quitting this habit brings about financial benefits. The cost of cigarettes can be put towards fulfilling experiences and hobbies or savings. The amount once spent on cigarettes can provide financial stability when amounting to something else. 

Thinking of quitting smoking

There is no doubt on the benefits of quitting smoking however quitting to smoke is challenging due to the addiction to nicotine in tobacco products. Withdrawal from this substance can cause cravings, irritability, anger and insomnia. A plan outlining the reasons for quitting, how to manage withdrawal symptoms and recognising the triggers will help in a smoother process. 

It can be challenging, but there are many strategies, from cold turkey to gradual reduction or using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and prescription medications like bupropion. Professional counseling and support are also crucial components of success.

There are many support resources such as quit helplines and online support programs. In the journey of smoking cessation, having the support of a health professional and other support workers can make all the difference.

Consult a doctor