Whether you’re thinking about giving up cigarettes or you’ve recently quit, well done on seeking out information on what happens when you quit smoking!

To begin, here are just some of the top reasons to give up smoking:

  • Reduce your risks of cancer, heart attacks, and other life-threatening diseases
  • Your energy levels will jump
  • You’ll save money
  • Improvements in your skin, teeth, and hair
  • Your breathing will improve drastically
  • Stronger muscles and bones

With that said, let’s learn more about what happens when you stop smoking - including a quick look into popular methods and how you can test your health during the quitting process.

See also: Cancer-fighting Foods: Can Foods Help Fight Cancer?

What happens when you quit smoking?

The side effects of stopping smoking are both physical and psychological.

Each person going through the process will have a unique experience, however, the side effects are said to peak after 1-3 days without nicotine [1]. Your cravings and the side effects will then begin to steadily decrease over the next 3-4 weeks.

Nobody said quitting was easy but simply take a look at the side effects of quitting smoking in the following hours, days, and weeks and you’ll realize how substantial the long-term health benefits really are!

  • 20 minutes: Pulse rate and blood pressure will return to normal
  • 8 hours: Body’s oxygen levels will return to normal
  • 24 hours: Body will have expelled all carbon monoxide in your body
  • 2 days: Nicotine levels will return to normal
  • 3 days: Breathing will be the same as a non-smoker
  • 4 days: Energy levels will return to normal
  • 7 days: Bad breathe will subside
  • 14 days: Tooth staining and/or plaque will reduce
  • 87 days: Circulation will have improved
  • 150 days: Coughs associated with smoking will have subsided
  • 365 days: Risk of lung cancer will be half of a person still smoking
  • 5440 days: Risk of a heart attack will be the same as someone who has never smoked

See also: The Five Most Common Types of Cancer Globally

What happens to you when you stop smoking? A timeline


What happens to the body when you give up smoking?

As previously mentioned, the side effects of quitting smoking are both physical and psychological.

Some of the effects on the body once you decide to quit include:

  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sweating or high temperature
  • Feeling restless
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Trouble sleeping, waking at night or insomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Cramps, gas or bloating
  • Digestive issues, most commonly constipation

What happens to the mind when you give up smoking?

As well as psychical side effects, there will be a handful of psychological effects of quitting smoking.

Some of the effects of the mind once you decide to quit include:

  • Strong cravings to smoke and/or consumed by the thoughts of smoking
  • Brain fog
  • Mood changes such as anxiety or depression
  • Feeling frustrated, angry or sensitive
  • Difficulty concentrating

What are the different methods for quitting smoking?


There is an abundance of information out there when it comes to smoking, and different methods of smoking cessation work for different people. The most important thing is that you follow through with your decision to quit.

According to Mayo Clinic, there are a number of methods used to ensure your last cigarette is really your last. These different methods include:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Avoiding triggers
  • Taking up physical activity
  • Practicing meditation or relaxation techniques
  • Seek support from family or friends

What happens when you quit cigarettes 'cold turkey'?

In one study, that included 700 participants, it was found that those who gave up smoking with the ‘cold turkey’ method were more successful than those who gradually stopped smoking [2].

In the six month follow up, researchers found that 22% of those who used the ‘cold turkey’ method were still cigarette-free after their quit date, while only 15.5% of those who gradually cut back were still not smoking after the first six month period.

If you’re going ‘cold turkey’, here are some of the best tips to tackle this method head-on:

  • Know your triggers: What makes you want to smoke?
  • Fill your calendar: If you’re always busy, you’ll have less time to think about smoking
  • Self-care is #1: Don’t attend events or enter situations that will trigger smoking until you know you can handle it
  • Track your savings: Make sure to keep note of how much money you’re saving for every box of cigarettes you don’t buy - at the end of every week treat yourself to something!
  • Preparation is key: Plan your meals, work-outs and meetups with friends so you know what’s ahead and you don’t fall into the habit

How to test your health during the quitting process

Smoking is said to have an effect on your HbA1c levels [3], stress hormones [4] and CRP levels [5] - each of which can be tested.

If you’re interested in tracking your health during your journey, LetsGetChecked provide at-home wellness tests for each of the above so you can document your progress and see first hand the positive effects quitting smoking has had on your health!

See also: How do you Check For Diabetes From Home?


  1. SmokeFree.gov. Understanding Withdrawal.Online: SmokeFree.gov.

  2. N. Lindson-Hawley, M. Banting and R. West et al. Gradual Versus Abrupt Smoking Cessation: A Randomized, Controlled Noninferiority Trial. Online: AnnalsOfInternalMedicine.org, 2016.

  3. American Diabetes Association. Smoking and Diabetes. Online: Care.DiabetesJournals.org, 2003.

  4. J. Wilkins, H. Carlson, H. Van Vunakis et al. Psychopharmacology. 1st ed. Online: Springer Verlag, 1982.

  5. M. Ohsawa, A. Okayama, M. Nakamura et al. *CRP levels are elevated in smokers but unrelated to the number of cigarettes and are decreased by long-term smoking cessation in male smokers. *Online: NCBI.nlm.nih.gov, 2005.