Quit smoking and feel better in 20 minutes!
Over 70 per cent of adult smokers say they would like to quit, but studies have found that the longer you smoke, the less faith you have in your ability to stop.
But it can be done! Last year 120,000 people managed to stub out their habit with the aid of quitting services - and this year it could be you.
And if you quit right now, you will begin to feel the benefits in just 20 minutes.
Follow our quitting timeline below to discover what happens to your body the moment you decide to give up. Then click on the links on the right for more information on quitting.
IF YOU QUIT SMOKING RIGHT NOW:
• In 20 minutes:
Your blood pressure and heart rate will return to normal. This immediately lowers your risk of having a heart attack. Your circulation will also improve, bringing fresh blood to your fingers and toes, so they may start to tingle.
• In eight hours:
The nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in your blood reduce by half. Carbon monoxide is the same fume pumped out by a car exhaust! In high doses it can be fatal, but at low levels - such as those found in cigarettes - it causes shortness of breath and increased heart rate. Your oxygen levels will also have returned to normal, helping replenish dried-out skin and hair caused by smoking.
• In 24 hours:
Carbon monoxide will be completely eliminated from your body and your lungs will start to clear out excess mucus and any other smoking 'debris'. You may notice you have a cough or sore throat as new lung tissue starts to grow.
• In 48 hours:
There is no nicotine left in your system and your sense of taste and smell will also greatly improve. One side-effect you may experience within the first 48 hours is light-headedness as the carbon monoxide leaves your system. But your pockets should feel heavier as you begin to save the money you would have spent on cigarettes!
• In three days:
Your breathing will become easier as the bronchial tubes in your lungs begin to relax. Your concentration may be starting to waver as the withdrawal symptoms from the nicotine kick in, but your energy levels will start to increase, giving you a boost.
• In two to 12 weeks:
You may find that you are getting more irritable, restless and depressed around this time as part of the withdrawal process. Up to 60 per cent of quitters said they suffered from these side-effects within four weeks of giving up smoking. Your craving to have another cigarette will be particularly strong at this point, but don't give in. By now your circulation has already greatly improved, boosting the nutrients being delivered to your skin which helps to beat wrinkles.
• Within three to nine months:
Your lung function will improve by up to 10 per cent as new cells lining the lungs develop. This will help any coughs, wheezes and breathing problems you had whilst smoking.
Around this time you may also notice that your appetite increases - 70 per cent of quitters say theirs did. This is one of the major reasons people are reluctant to quit - they are worried about putting on weight. But ASH, the anti-smoking campaigners, say the average weight gain is only half-a-stone.
This weight accumulates without quitters taking any steps to beat the extra pounds, such as watching what they eat or taking up any exercise. Gaining a little weight 'presents a minor health risk when compared to the risk of continued smoking' says ASH. In the long-term, studies have shown your weight will return to the level it would have been if you had never started smoking.
• In one year:
Your risk of having a heart attack falls to roughly half that of someone who is still smoking. The stroke risk caused by lack of oxygen and narrowed blood vessels in the brain will drop to that of a non-smoker five years after you quit.
• In 10 years:
Your risk of developing lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker. The pre-cancerous cells in your body caused by smoking are also replaced by new, healthy cells.
• In 15 years:
Your risk of having a heart attack returns to the same level as someone who has never smoked. Your skin should also have completely recovered from the damage associated with smoking. Congratulations!