How Long Does It Take The Lungs To Heal After Quitting Smoking

Are you wondering how long it will take your lungs to heal once you have quit smoking? Perhaps you are in the process of quitting and want some more information? Or maybe you are curious and want to know more?

Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you! 

We know how challenging it can be to quit smoking, and while you are doing it, how easy it is to wonder about your health. We all know that smoking damages our lungs.

From images on cigarette packets to doctor’s appointments, everyone is keen to remind us about the damage to our bodies. 

But what happens when we quit? Can our lungs heal from the damage? And how long will that take? These thoughts race through your mind, but you seem unable to find the answers that you need. 

Well, no more! Today we are here with the answers you crave. Keep reading to find out how long it takes your lungs to heal after smoking, see our timeline of effects, and find out just what smoking is doing to your body.

Health Effects Of Smoking 

Are you aware of the health risks associated with smoking cigarettes? If not, then read on to discover some surprising facts about tobacco.

Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people every year worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that tobacco causes over 8% of deaths globally. In addition, tobacco use accounts for almost half of cancer deaths in men and women.

Smoking has negative impacts on the body. Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and other diseases.

It can also lead to pregnancy complications and birth defects in the baby. But did you know that smoking is also hazardous to your teeth?

When a person smokes, nicotine enters his or her bloodstream. Nicotine is an addictive substance that affects the brain’s neurotransmitters. This helps maintain nicotine addiction even after quitting.

Blood vessels constrict, causing less blood supply to organs including the lungs.  Tobacco smoke contains thousands of different chemicals such as tar, carbon monoxide, ammonia, acetic acid, heavy metals, and benzopyrene.

These chemicals are inhaled into the lungs where most of them reach deep inside and affect the respiratory tract.

The smoker inhales these various toxins at all times while he or she is smoking. As a result, it damages the alveoli lining the air sacs of the lung. Smaller air sacs mean less volume of air reaching the lungs in each breath.

Smokers can suffer from bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, and COPD. Cigarettes contain large amounts of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The burning process also releases large quantities of formaldehyde.

Other toxic substances found in cigarette smoke include arsenic, cyanide, nitrosamines, phenol, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, hydrogen sulfide, 1,3-butadiene, acetone, and diethylene glycol.

A regular smoker loses about 10 percent of his or her life expectancy compared with people who do not smoke. Some studies indicate that the presence of second-hand smoke causes between 20-50% of childhood asthma attacks in children.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop sudden infant death syndrome and pneumonia. Mothers who smoke during pregnancy increase their child’s chances of being born prematurely by 25% and having low birth weight by 40%. 

It should come as no surprise that maternal smoking has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. It has also been associated with premature delivery and stillbirth.

Researchers have revealed that long-term exposure to tobacco smoke may cause serious health problems for infants.

They found that babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy had a higher chance of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Babies were also more likely to be diagnosed with developmental disorders like cerebral palsy and cerebral visual impairment.

In addition, children whose parents smoke are more prone to upper respiratory illnesses and become smokers themselves. 

To avoid the ill effects of tobacco smoke, it is important to try and quit smoking. There are many cessation aids available that help people kick their habit.

For example, using nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays, or other products containing nicotine; hypnosis; counseling; acupuncture; yoga; meditation; and exercise.

Health improvements start to show in as little as an hour after you have smoked your final cigarette and continue to happen in the days, weeks, months, and years following your quit date. 

Now that we have covered the impact on your health smoking has, let’s see how long it takes our lungs to heal after quitting smoking!

Timeline Of Health Benefits After Quitting Smoking

The health benefits that happen after you quit smoking are pretty much immediate. Read the timeline to find out how your health will improve over time, and how your incredible lungs will begin to heal themselves from the serious damage caused by smoking.

1 Hour After Quitting

Within 20 minutes after your final cigarette is smoked, your heart rate will decrease and return to normal. Your increased blood pressure caused by smoking will start to decrease, and your circulation will start to improve.

12 Hours After Quitting

Cigarettes have lots of dangerous toxins in them such as carbon monoxide, which enters the body when cigarette smoke is inhaled. Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous toxin to humans and can even be fatal in large doses. 

It prevents a healthy supply of oxygen from entering the blood and lungs, and when large doses are inhaled over a short period, someone can suffocate due to a decrease in oxygen entering their body. 

When 12 hours have passed since your last cigarette, the body will have cleansed itself of the increased carbon monoxide supplied by cigarette smoke, and carbon monoxide levels in the blood return to normal, which in turn increases the level of oxygen available in the body.

1 Day After Quitting 

Smoking increases the risk of contracting heart disease because it lowers the amount of good cholesterol in the body, which means that exercise that keeps your heart fit and healthy is much more difficult. 

Cigarettes also increase blood pressure and the presence of blood clots, which also increases the risk of having a stroke. 

It only takes one day after smoking your last cigarette for your risk of heart disease, and your risk of having a heart attack, to decrease. 

Because oxygen levels have increased significantly, exercise is easier, which means you are more likely to gain health benefits from engaging in exercise more frequently and at a higher intensity.

2 Days After Quitting 

Smoking cigarettes causes damage to nerve endings involved in the smell and taste senses. After just 2 days, the sense of taste and smell will be heightened because the nerve endings have begun to heal.

3 Days After Quitting

Once 3 days have passed since your final cigarette, nicotine levels are depleted and this may cause intense nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, intense cravings, appetite changes, and irritability.

Once people have passed this difficult stage of nicotine withdrawal, they should start to find things easier because their bodies have adjusted to having no nicotine. 

1 Month After Quitting

In just 1 month after quitting smoking, lung function starts to improve, as the lung capacity increases and lungs begin to heal from the damage caused by smoking. 

Coughing and shortness of breath (common symptoms of smoking) will begin to decrease and the ability to engage in cardiovascular exercise will have improved significantly.

1-3 Months After Quitting

During this period, 1-3 months after quitting smoking, circulation improves significantly.

9 Months After Quitting

Once 9 months have passed since your last cigarette, your lungs will have healed a lot. The small, fine, hair-like structures called cilia that line your lungs will have healed from the damage of cigarette smoke. 

Cilia aid in pushing mucus out of the lungs and provide resistance to infection, which means you should experience less mucus and less susceptibility to respiratory tract infections.

1 Year After Quitting

After just 1 year, the risk of coronary heart disease has dropped by around half. This risk continues to decrease further past 1 year as you continue to abstain from smoking.

5 Years After Quitting

Cigarettes have lots of well-known toxins in them that can cause narrowing of the blood vessels and arteries. The toxins present in cigarette smoke also cause the risk of blood clots to rise. 

Once you have quit smoking for 5 years, the blood vessels and arteries begin to open up and widen, which significantly lowers the risk of a blood clot and therefore the risk of stroke. 

10 Years After Quitting

After a decade has passed since you quit smoking, the risk of lung cancer is half that of a smoker. The risk of other cancers such as throat, mouth, and pancreatic cancer decreases significantly after 10 years of abstinence. 

15 Years After Quitting

15 years after quitting smoking, the risk of developing heart disease is the same as that of someone who has never smoked. The risk of pancreatic cancer is also the same as a non-smoker.

20 Years After Quitting

Once two decades of not smoking have passed, the risk of dying from an illness caused by smoking decreases to the same level as someone who has not ever smoked. The risk of pancreatic cancer also drops to that of a person who has never smoked.


Clearly, the timeline of quitting smoking shows the amazing health benefits of putting cigarettes down for life. Smoking is an extremely harmful habit, which can cause many different illnesses and premature death. 

The lungs are impressive organs, which despite the damage cigarette smoke can cause to them, have the fantastic capacity to heal themselves over time.

Twenty years after giving up smoking, the lungs will have healed back to the state of a never-smoker, which means that the sooner you quit smoking, the better your chances of a long and healthy life that is free from cigarettes for good.

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