What Happens When You Quit?

It’s hard to know what’s in store when you wave goodbye to cigarettes for good. From cravings and withdrawal symptoms to healing and satisfaction, here’s what to expect on your path to quitting smoking.

1. Your Health Will Begin to Improve

When you quit smoking, your body begins to heal within a matter of hours. After just twenty minutes your pulse rate will return to normal, and after 48 hours, carbon monoxide will have been eliminated from your body.

Within 2 to 12 weeks, circulation improves, and you’ll find walking and running much easier. And after 15 years, your heart-attack risk will fall to the same as someone who has never smoked before.

For a full timeline of what happens to your body, see our article on the health benefits of quitting smoking.

2. You Will Experience Withdrawal Symptoms

It’s normal to experience withdrawal symptoms after you quit smoking. This is because nicotine is an addictive substance which affects the balance of chemicals in the brain. This means that it might take your brain a while to adjust to the absence of nicotine.

Nicotine withdrawal is different for every smoker, and can involve physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Common symptoms include anxiety, irritability, increased appetite, nausea, coughing, and headaches. 

Although withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, they are neither permanent nor dangerous. Some withdrawal symptoms can start within a matter of hours of quitting, but most typically subside within a month. 

Learn more with our guide to nicotine withdrawal symptoms and advice on avoiding triggers.

3. You'll Save Money

One of the most noticeable benefits of quitting is all the money you’ll save. 

Every cigarette you don’t smoke will mean more money in your pocket, so just imagine what you could do with all your savings from quitting smoking. With the average smoker spending £180 a month on cigarettes*, that dream holiday or purchase could fast be within reach.

To see how much money you can expect to save, check out our chart that shows the financial benefits of quitting. 

*Based on a pack of 20 cigarettes costing £10.76 and average number of 11 cigarettes a day.

4. You Might Experience a Slip

It’s common for quitters to experience a slip on the way towards stopping smoking for good. In fact, as many as 75% of quitters will relapse back into smoking at some point along their journey. 

If you do end up having a cigarette, it’s important to remain positive, and not let yourself get disheartened. Instead, try to learn from your mistakes and put a plan in place to avoid slipping up again. Helpful steps you can take to avoid relapsing include avoiding your triggers, using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), speaking your GP, or attending a local stop smoking service. 

Find out what to do if you experience a slip with our guides to lapsing and relapsing.

5. Your Appearance Will Improve

Smoking has been shown to age the skin prematurely, and leave both teeth and nails discoloured and stained. When you quit, however, your skin will be better nourished with oxygen and vital nutrients, brightening up your complexion and improving your skin’s elasticity. Similarly, quitting will reduce your risk of gum disease, and leave you with a healthier smile and fresher breath. 

Discover more with our guide to the social benefits of quitting smoking.

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Site last updated on 2 May 2019