Even from chain smoking the body recovers surprisingly well after giving up nicotine. Some things can be done within hours, others take more than a decade. But after about 15 years, ex-smokers and non-smokers are equally healthy.

Almost 30 percent of people over the age of 14 smoke in Germany. More than 80 percent of them try to quit on their own from time to time. Stopping is extremely difficult because smoking is an indispensable relaxation ritual for many people and above all because nicotine creates a strong dependency.

what happens after you quit smoking

Stopping smoking is pure health protection

Nowadays, not only physicians know how sensible it is to stop smoking: smoking is the first of the avoidable cancer risks. Almost 20 percent of all cancers are caused by burning tobacco or are involved in it.

As if that were not enough, cigarette smoke permanently damages blood vessels, respiratory tract, bones, teeth and gums. The erection and fertility can also be disturbed. So maybe you should even think about doing a cold turkey.

The body can recover completely from smoking

With so much damage potential, it is all the more amazing how much the body can recover from the stresses and strains of smoking. As long as no permanent organic damage has occurred, giving up nicotine helps to regain health.

However, it may take time until this is achieved. This has just been shown by a study at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee: Of the 9,000 test persons, around 2,500 had consumed at least one pack of cigarettes a day for more than 20 years. When these heavy smokers quit, their risk of cardiovascular disease was reduced by almost 40 percent in the first five non-smoking years. But it took 10, 15 and some 25 years before they had the same, lower risk as lifelong non-smokers.

Regeneration from the first moment of life as a non-smoker

Many positive changes become noticeable much faster. The regeneration of the body begins at the moment after the last puff on the cigarette – by the way, without differences between the sexes. Women and men recover equally fast and well.

The age at which you stop smoking plays a role in this: if you manage to quit smoking before the age of 45, you can eliminate 90 percent of the risk of cardiovascular problems that you have created as a result. Australian scientists have determined this in a study.

Und in diesem Tempo verändert und regeneriert sich der Körper:

Immediate effect on blood circulation

Hair washed and teeth brushed, cigarette stink and bad breath are already banished, which smokers themselves often do not even notice. If you make an appointment for professional teeth cleaning on your first non-smoking day, you will immediately get rid of the yellow-brown coating that makes smokers’ teeth unnaturally dark over time.

Although this is more an optical-aesthetic than a health regeneration, it helps to resist the craving for a cigarette. Nicotine withdrawal can be very tiring in the first one or two weeks.

Within minutes after the last cigarette, the body’s first repair mechanisms also begin:

After only 20 minutes, pulse and blood pressure drop to normal levels.

At the same time, the blood circulation improves. Among other things, this means that the faster aging of the skin caused by smoking is stopped. Cold, poorly circulated hands and feet also become warmer.

After one day oxygen floods the body

The toxic waste products of the cigarette have disappeared from the mucous membranes and with it the unpleasant smell and taste left behind by the smoulder.

Where previously carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke displaced oxygen from the red blood cells, the situation is now reversed: The carbon monoxide level in the blood drops, the oxygen level rises. All organs are better supplied with oxygen again and physical performance increases.

After two days: Nerve regeneration

After two days the regeneration of the nerve ends begins. The sense of taste and smell refines. Former smokers perceive scents more clearly again – for example the smell after a rain shower or the flowers along the way. Food and drinks smell and taste more intense. Individual aromas are better perceived.

Everything tastes better after one week

48 hours after stopping smoking, the reduced sense of taste and smell in smokers begins to recover. Fragrances and tastes are perceived more intensively.

After 3 days without tobacco, it is easier to breathe deeply.

After two weeks the blood circulation stabilizes

After at least two weeks of stopping smoking, the blood circulation stabilizes. The lungs also begin to regenerate. The mucus in the airways dissolves. It becomes easier to breathe, and lung function increases by almost a third. Former smokers no longer get out of breath so quickly.

After one (to three) months, the self-cleaning process is at full speed

  • The circulation is stabilizing.
  • Lung function is improving.
  • Physical exertion in everyday life and during sports is easier.

The often grey and sallow facial skin caused by smoking benefits from better blood circulation. And because it has renewed itself superficially after 28 days, it looks rosier and fresher after a month. However, wrinkles as a sign of rapid skin aging in smokers cannot be reversed.

After nine months, the smoker’s cough weakens

Nine months after the last cigarette, the smoker’s cough weakens. The cilia of the bronchi resume their work and transport dirt particles from the respiratory tract. The lungs cleanse themselves. At the same time, the risk of infections and colds decreases.

After one year, smoker’s cough is a thing of the past

The lung capacity increases and the airways become clear. They gradually free themselves from deposits and mucus.

Typical smoking complaints such as coughing fits, blocked sinuses or shortness of breath decrease.

The risk of infection is reduced.

In addition, the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) is significantly reduced – it is only half that of a smoker. In coronary heart disease, the coronary arteries are partially or completely blocked by narrowing. Those affected complain of chest pain or a feeling of pressure in the chest. In the worst case, coronary heart disease can lead to a heart attack.

After 5 years the risk of cancer and heart disease decreases significantly

Now ex-smokers are no longer worse off than rich smokers for many diseases:

  • 100 percent lower risk of stroke,
  • 100 percent lower risk of cervical cancer,
  • 50 percent lower risk of cancer of the oral cavity, throat, esophagus and bladder,
  • 50 percent lower risk of heart attack.

Many of the harmful substances contained in cigarettes put a strain on the blood vessels. The risk of vascular calcification and thus also strokes increases. A danger that can be avoided by consistently stopping smoking.

After 10 years, the lungs will be fine

After about ten years, the risk of certain cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, air and oesophagus, decreases. The risk of developing lung cancer is reduced by half compared to people who have continued to smoke. The risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas goes down.

After 15 years as fit as a non-smoker

After almost 15 years, the risk of cardiovascular disease is roughly at the level of a lifelong non-smoker.