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Healthy You

The Effects of Quitting Smoking After 20 Minutes to 15 Years

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 11:07 AM

By: Lauren McRae

Quitting smoking can have wondrous effects on your well-being and health. 

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature death in the United States and causes approximately 480,000 deaths each year. Tobacco use has been linked to lung, head and neck, pancreatic, bladder, kidney, stomach, uterine and cervical cancers. 

Take the important step toward a healthier life and reduce your cancer risk by becoming smoke-free. 

Great American Smokeout

Shannon M. Hartman, PharmD, Kellogg Cancer Center Pharmacy, says before you choose to quit, make sure you have a plan. “Research has found that quitting ‘cold turkey’ is not the most successful way to stop smoking,” she said. “The combination of support from a trained professional and the use of tobacco cessation tools and medication increases the chances of quitting successfully. Ask for help!”

There are various types of nicotine replacement therapy and medication treatments available for quitting smoking.  It can be in the form of gum, lozenges, patches, nasal sprays, inhalers, and oral medications. One type of treatment does not work for everyone so it should be tailored to each individual.

Remember that it is never too late to quit smoking, and often it takes more than one attempt to be successful. For more information about quitting smoking, call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline: 1-866-QUIT-YES or visit

Did you know? After…

  • 20 minutes: your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months: Your lung functions start to improve.
  • 1 to 9 months: Coughing and shortness of breath improve.
  • 1 year: Your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
  • 5 years: Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are half that of a smoker’s.
  • 10 years: The risk of dying of lung cancer is half that of a smoker’s.
  • 15 years: Risk of coronary heart disease that of a nonsmoker.