The immediate benefits of going smoke free 

Quitting smoking has many health benefits and some start within just hours of stubbing out your last cigarette. Here’s what you can expect in the first 30 days of going smoke free.

If you’ve been smoking for years, you probably think it’ll take a long time for the health benefits of quitting to show. But that’s not the case, with health benefits starting almost immediately.  

We all know that stopping smoking improves our health, but how, and how long does it take to start seeing changes? 

20 minutes 

You had your last cigarette 20 minutes ago. Surely you can’t begin experiencing benefits already? But that’s exactly what’s happening.  

After just 20 minutes without a cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure will begin to drop. The nicotine found in a cigarette is a stimulant, which can cause spikes in your blood pressure and heart rate. As soon as you drop the cigarette, your body starts working to return to normal.  

8 hours 

It’s been 8 hours since you last smoked and the carbon monoxide levels in your blood have halved and your oxygen levels are returning to normal.  

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous colourless and odourless gas that’s released when carbon is burned without enough oxygen. Car exhausts, boilers that are installed incorrectly and cigarette smoke all produce a lot of carbon monoxide. Ew. 

When it’s breathed in, carbon monoxide attaches itself to haemoglobin in your red blood cells, severely reducing how much oxygen can be carried around your body. Low blood oxygen is known as hypoxemia, and even moderately low levels can result in headaches, shortness of breath and a rapid heart rate.  

Carbon monoxide is quick to connect with your red blood cells, but fairly slow to exit your body, taking as long as 24 hours to be completely removed from your lungs.  

3 days 

After 3 days without a cigarette, you’ll be able to breathe easier. The bronchial tubes in your lungs start to relax, making it easier for your body to get enough oxygen into cells. Your lung capacity will also have started to increase, meaning you’ll be able to take in a deep breath of lovely smoke free air. 

2 weeks 

A fortnight without a cigarette means your blood circulation will improve, making physical activity easier. And that doesn’t just apply to exercise, but every day activity like walking and climbing stairs too.  

Your immune system will also have seen a boost after two weeks smoke free. This’ll make it easier for you to fight off a cold or flu, and the increased oxygen levels in your blood will help to reduce tiredness and headaches.  

1 month 

Making it to 1 month smoke free is a huge milestone, and your body will be celebrating too as your lungs go from strength to strength. The fibres in your lungs that help to keep your lungs healthy will be growing again, helping to reduce mucus buildup. This means you’ll be starting to cough less, and you’ll cough up less mucus. 

These are just the immediate plus sides of stopping smoking, the health benefits of going smoke free will continue for years.  


Get the scoop with healthy lifestyle advice, tips and guides from our experts.

The unknowns of vaping

Using a vape can help you when you’re quitting smoking, and vaping is thought to be up to 95% healthier than smoking cigarettes. But there’s so much we don’t know about vaping. Here’s what that means. 

Read More »