Will I live longer if I quit smoking?


Yes, quitting smoking can significantly increase your life expectancy. On average, smokers lose 10 years of life compared to nonsmokers. When you stop smoking, your risks of smoking-related diseases like lung cancer and heart disease start to decrease. Within 5-15 years of quitting, your risk of stroke and coronary heart disease is close to that of a nonsmoker.

What are the health benefits of quitting smoking?

Quitting smoking has both immediate and long-term health benefits at any age. Some of these include:

  • Within 20 minutes: Your blood pressure and heart rate start to return to normal.
  • Within 12 hours: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops and your oxygen levels return to normal.
  • Within a few weeks to months: Your circulation and lung function improve. You’ll have fewer coughing fits and shortness of breath.
  • Within 1-9 months: You’ll experience less shortness of breath and coughing. Your lung function can improve up to 10%.
  • Within 1 year: Your excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
  • Within 5 years: Your stroke risk can fall to that of a nonsmoker. Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are halved.
  • Within 10 years: Your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker’s. Precancerous cells are replaced.
  • Within 15 years: Your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.

In summary, quitting smoking reduces your risks of numerous health problems ranging from heart disease and stroke to multiple cancers. The earlier and younger you quit, the greater these health benefits are.

How does smoking affect life expectancy?

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, accounting for nearly 480,000 deaths per year in the United States. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

According to studies, smoking can shorten a man’s lifespan by up to 13 years and a woman’s lifespan by up to 14 years. This is because smoking increases the risk of many chronic, life-threatening diseases like:

  • Lung cancer – In the US, 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and 80% in women are due to smoking.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – Cigarette smoking accounts for 80-90% of COPD deaths.
  • Heart disease – Smokers are 2-4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.
  • Stroke – The risk of stroke is 2-4 times higher among smokers compared to nonsmokers.

Smoking also weakens your immune system and can make you more prone to respiratory infections like pneumonia. Smoking is linked to other cancers like larynx, mouth, esophagus, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach cancers as well.

How much longer will I live if I quit smoking?

Studies have found that people who quit smoking by age 40 avoid more than 90% of the excess mortality risk associated with continued smoking.

One study found that smokers who quit at age 35 gained 9 years of life expectancy compared to those who continued smoking. Quitting at age 55 gained 6 years of life expectancy, while even those who quit at age 65 gained 3 more years compared to those who continued smoking.

So in general, the earlier you quit smoking, the more lifespan you can gain. However, it’s never too late to quit. Even long-term smokers can reap substantial benefits by quitting smoking in middle age or beyond.

What happens to your body when you quit smoking?

Here’s a timeline of the benefits that happen to your body when you become smoke-free:

20 Minutes After Quitting

Your heart rate and blood pressure start to return to normal levels.

12 Hours After Quitting

The carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal. Your oxygen levels also start to improve.

2 Weeks to 3 Months After Quitting

Your heart attack risk begins to drop. Your lung function starts to improve.

1 to 9 Months After Quitting

Your coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Your lung function can improve up to 10%.

1 Year After Quitting

Your excess risk of coronary heart disease drops to half that of a smoker’s.

5 Years After Quitting

Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker. Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are halved.

10 Years After Quitting

Your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker’s. Your risk of cancers of the larynx and pancreas decreases.

15 Years After Quitting

Your risk of coronary heart disease is now the same as a nonsmoker’s. Your risk of death returns to nearly the level of someone who never smoked.

So in summary, quitting smoking reduces your risk of various diseases gradually over time. The health benefits begin almost immediately and continue to increase as the years go by as a smoke-free person.

Will the damage from smoking be reversed if I quit?

The damage done by smoking can’t be fully reversed in most smokers. However, quitting can still be beneficial, even after years of smoking.

For instance, while the risk of lung cancer remains higher in ex-smokers compared to never-smokers, it still reduces by 30-50% after 10 years of quitting smoking.

Similarly, the likelihood of developing heart disease reduces significantly within 1-2 years of quitting. So while the risk can’t return to the level of a never-smoker, it still decreases substantially.

Studies also show the risk of stroke falling to that of a never-smoker after 5-15 years of smoking cessation. Smoking also leads to permanent lung damage like emphysema which can’t be reversed. But quitting can prevent further lung damage.

Overall, smoking cessation helps the body heal to a large degree. While ex-smokers may not become like never-smokers, most of the significant health benefits of quitting smoking still apply even after prolonged tobacco use.

How to quit smoking

Quitting smoking isn’t easy but it can be done. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Set a quit date and stick to it – Make a firm decision to stop smoking on a particular date. This will help you mentally prepare. Tell loved ones so they can support you.
  • Remove smoking triggers – Clear cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays from home, office, car to remove triggers and cues to smoke.
  • Consider nicotine replacement – Patches, gum, or other NRTs can help ease withdrawal symptoms.
  • Get support – Tell your doctor, friends, and family so they can give support and encouragement.
  • Try counseling or support groups – Behavioral counseling or support groups like Nicotine Anonymous improve your chances of success.
  • Avoid trigger situations – Steer clear of people, places, or activities associated with your smoking habit, especially early on.
  • Adopt healthy habits – Start exercising, drink more water, get more sleep – this can help minimize cravings.
  • Manage stress – Try yoga, meditation, listening to music to help manage withdrawal-related stress.
  • Consider medications – Prescription meds like varenicline, bupropion can help relieve cravings.
  • Stay motivated – Remind yourself regularly of all the health benefits to stay focused on your goal.

Having a personalized quit plan, lots of support and using stop-smoking aids can all greatly boost your chances of successfully becoming and remaining smoke-free.

How much money will I save if I quit smoking?

Quitting smoking can save you a substantial amount of money each year.

In the US, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is around $6-$7. Smoking just 1 pack per day at $7 amounts to $2,555 per year.

For a pack-a-day smoker, quitting can save up to $2,500 annually. Over 10 years, the savings can exceed $25,000.

This doesn’t account for healthcare expenditures. Studies show that in countries like the US and Canada, lifetime health expenditure was found to be over $80,000 higher for smokers compared to nonsmokers. This includes greater costs for hospitalizations and prescription drugs over a lifetime.

So in total, successful smoking cessation can save you thousands of dollars per year directly by avoiding cigarette purchases. And it saves you from having higher medical bills throughout life by preventing various tobacco-related diseases.


Quitting smoking, even later in life, can significantly increase life expectancy and reduce the risks of numerous smoking-related diseases like lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and COPD.

While the damage from smoking can’t be fully reversed, quitting has immediate and long-term health benefits and reduces the risks substantially compared to continued smoking. So it’s never too late to quit. Combining nicotine replacement, medications, counseling, support groups and healthy lifestyle changes can help smokers successfully quit and experience the many physical and financial benefits of becoming smoke-free.

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