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How to reverse the health effects of smoking

As soon as you quit, your body starts to repair. Find out how.

We hear a lot about the health risks of smoking – but what happens when you quit?

Good news! The effects of smoking are actually reversed with every cigarette you don’t have.

Over time, your risk of life-threatening health problems, including cancer, reduces dramatically. 

As soon as you stop smoking your body begins to repair itself. 

Typical benefits of quitting are:

Within 6 hours

  • Your heart rate slows and your blood pressure becomes more stable.

Within a day

  • Almost all of the nicotine is out of your bloodstream.
  • The level of carbon monoxide in your blood has dropped and oxygen can more easily reach your heart and muscles.     
  • Your fingertips become warmer and your hands steadier.

Within a week

  • Your sense of taste and smell may improve.
  • You have higher blood levels of protective antioxidants such as vitamin C.

Within 3 months

  • You’re coughing and wheezing less.
  • Your lungs’ natural cleaning system is recovering, becoming better at removing mucus, tar and dust from your lungs (exercise helps to clear out your lungs).
  • Your immune system is beginning its recovery so your body is better at fighting off infection.
  • Your blood is less thick and sticky and blood flow to your hands and feet has improved.

Within 6 months

  • You are less likely to be coughing up phlegm.
  • You're likely to feel less stressed than when you were smoking.

After 1 year

  • Your lungs are now healthier and you’ll be breathing easier than if you’d kept smoking.

Within 2 to 5 years

  • There is a large drop in your risk of heart attack and stroke and this risk will continue to gradually decrease over time.
  • For women, within five years, the risk of cervical cancer is the same as someone who has never smoked.

After 10 years

  • Your risk of lung cancer is lower than that of a continuing smoker (provided the disease was not already present when you quit).

After 15 years

  • Your risk of heart attack and stroke is close to that of a person who has never smoked.


How fast and how well your body recovers can depend on the number of cigarettes you normally smoke and how long you’ve been smoking, and whether you already have a smoking-related disease.

The sooner you quit the sooner your body can start to repair itself.

Chat to Quitline about the benefits of quitting or request a Quitline callback. Or see how quitting is good for your family and friends’ health, too. 

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