What happens when you give up?

20 minutes: Your blood pressure and pulse return to normal.

8 hours: Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood are halved, oxygen levels in the blood 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. Your taste and smell are greatly improved.

72 hours: Breathing becomes easier, bronchial tubes begin to relax, energy levels increase.

2 - 12 weeks: Circulation improves, making walking and running 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.

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 still 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.
  • Smokers who stop before the age of 35 have a life expectancy not significantly different from that of a non-smoker.


Cravings are a key temptation when quitting but if you are determined to quit, you need to learn how to deal with them. Below are a few ways to help with this:

  • Confront cravings head on and learn to ‘overcome the urge to smoke at will through sheer determination’.
  • Cravings only last 3- 5 minutes and they WILL subside. Once the urge to smoke has gone your resolve will strengthen.
  • Focus on the reasons you decided to quit.
  • Take 3 or 4 deep breaths. Breathe in slowly through the nose and fill your lungs, then breathe out again slowly through the mouth. 
  • Drink water. Sip it slowly and try to savour the taste. This will also help to satisfy any increased appetite.
  • Keep busy. Take your mind off smoking by going for a walk, doing an odd job around the home or in the garden or call a friend or relative on the phone.