Your Health

When you quit smoking, you’ll feel a lot better. Pure and simple.

You’ve probably heard this before, but smoking is terrible for your health. Yes, there are smokers who have lived a long life, but they’re the exception and not the rule.

Half of lifelong smokers will die of a tobacco-related disease. On average, smokers die 9 years sooner than non-smokers. That number jumps to 13 years if smokers are also overweight, drink a lot of alcohol, don’t get much exercise and have a lot of stress in their lives.[1]

Smoking harms

The good news

Smoking Harms

How smoking affects you depends on:

  • how much and how often you smoke
  • how long you’ve been smoking
  • your mood, expectations and the environment
  • your age
  • whether you have certain pre-existing medical or psychiatric conditions
  • whether you’ve taken alcohol or other drugs (illicit, prescription, over-the-counter or herbal).

Based on research, smoking…

  • causes lung cancer
  • increases the risk of cancers of the colon, mouth, throat, pancreas, bladder and cervix
  • causes most cases of chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • causes smoker’s cough
  • is a major cause of heart disease and stroke
  • increases the risk of medical problems for a woman during pregnancy
  • increases the risk that a baby will be underweight or will die in infancy
  • increases risk of osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
  • increases the risk of digestive problems
  • affects the immune system, making people who smoke more prone to colds, flu and pneumonia
  • reduces the amount of vitamin C in the body, which may cause skin wounds to heal less quickly. (This is a problem if you are also having surgery.)
  • can cause arteries in the legs to become clogged. This results in poor circulation, leg pain, gangrene and loss of limb.

Using tobacco products like snuff and chewing tobacco is linked to oral cancers, gingivitis and tooth decay.

Do you exercise? Smoking makes it harder for you to get all the benefits.

Women have added health risks from smoking. Learn more.

The Good News

When you quit, your body quickly starts to repair itself from the damages of smoking. The benefits start in as little as 20 minutes after smoking a cigarette!
Here’s what happens when you stop.

  • Within 20 minutes your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • Within 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood stream drops to normal.
  • Within 24 hours your lungs start to clear the mucus.
  • Within 48 hours nicotine has left your body.
  • Within 48 hours your sense of taste and smell has improved.
  • Within 72 hours your lung capacity increases making it easier for you to breathe.
  • Within 72 hours your energy level increases
  • Within 3 months your circulation and lung function improves.
  • After 9 months you will cough less and breathe easier.
  • After 1 year your risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half.
  • After 5 years your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half.
  • After 10 years you are half as likely to die from lung cancer, and your risk of larynx or pancreatic cancer decreases.
  • After 15 years your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s.

Simply put, when you quit smoking, you’ll feel a lot better. That’s the truth.

Information adapted from Health Canada, The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Expecting to Quit: A Best-Practices Review of Smoking Cessation Interventions for Pregnant and Postpartum Girls and Women.


[1] Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-624-X