Benefits of quitting

Smoking is the greatest cause of preventable ill health in Northern Ireland. Smoking not only increases the risk of cancer for the smoker but also for those around them, their family or workplace colleagues. About 1/3 of cancer deaths in Northern Ireland could be prevented if people did not start smoking or successfully quit smoking

Health benefits

Health benefits begin almost as soon as you quit.
The table below shows after how many minutes the equivalent health benefits begin.

 After     Health Benefits 
20 minutes Blood pressure and pulse return to normal
24 hours Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body and the lungs start to clear out the build up of tar
48 hours There is no nicotine left in the body. Taste and smell are greatly improved.
2–12 weeks    Circulation improves, making walking and running a lot easier
3–9 months Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve as the lungs have room for up to 10 per cent more oxygen.
1 year  Risk of heart attack is halved.
10 years    Risk of lung cancer is halved.            
15 years  Risk of heart attack is at the same level as non-smokers.

Other benefits:

  • The risk of developing lung cancer, other cancers, heart attack, stroke and chronic lung disease is reduced - the sooner you stop smoking, the sooner your risk starts going down
  • Stopping smoking at any age increases your life expectancy, provided that you stop before the onset of serious disease. Even if you have developed a disease, you can benefit from stopping as your body will be under less strain.
  • A smoker who has suffered from a heart attack can halve the risk of a second heart attack by stopping smoking
  • Ten years after quitting smoking an ex-smoker's risk of lung cancer is reduced by 30 to 50 per cent compared with that of a continuing smoker
  • Smokers who stop before the age of 35 have a life expectancy not significantly different from that of a non-smoker
  • But it's never too late. Smokers who give up smoking between 65 and 74 years of age have a better life expectancy beyond 75 than those who continue to smoke.