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A breath of fresh air: The immediate benefits of quitting smoking or vaping nicotine

Quitting smoking has countless short and long-term health benefits, some of which start to impact the body almost immediately after putting down a cigarette. Just 20 minutes after quitting, heart and blood pressure begin to drop. After two weeks, circulation and lung functionality improve. After one year, the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack is reduced. After 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is 50% less compared to a current smoker.

Quitting smoking has also been associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke.

While decades of research have provided a clear picture of how quitting smoking improves physical and mental health, research on quitting e-cigarettes is still emerging. Early studies suggest that some chemicals present in e-cigarette aerosols may increase the risk of certain illnesses such as heart disease or cancer, but additional studies on long-term health effects are needed.

Here’s what we know about the short- and long-term health effects of quitting smoking or vaping nicotine, and what resources are available to help.

Bodily function starts to improve just 20 minutes after quitting smoking

Quitting smoking has life-changing benefits, regardless of age, gender, or race. In the long-term, it reduces the risk of developing, and dying from, diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and more. Research has also found that smoking can interfere with the body’s natural healing process, and quitting may reduce problems associated with your body’s ability to heal wounds.

For those living with chronic conditions, quitting smoking is the first step to better health outcomes, including successful recovery after a surgery. A review and meta-analysis linked quitting at or around the time of a lung cancer diagnosis with survival, and another study found patients who quit just before surgery experienced better and faster healing. Even brief periods of abstinence from smoking can improve surgical outcomes.


Short and long term benefits of quitting smoking


Quitting smoking has short-term benefits as well. Heart rate and blood pressure start to decrease just 20 minutes after someone stops smoking, and the body’s carbon monoxide levels return to healthy levels after several days. Blood circulation also starts to improve after a few weeks, and as the lungs start to heal, coughing or shortness of breath may be reduced.

90% of survey respondents felt less stressed, anxious, or depressed after quitting vaping nicotine

While research has shown that quitting smoking benefits mental health, the relationship between vaping nicotine and mental health is still being studied. Some research indicates that the relationship between cigarette smoking and depressive symptoms in young people may also be present for e-cigarettes. 

In addition, in a Truth Initiative survey, 90% of respondents who quit e-cigarettes said they felt less stressed, anxious, or depressed,  and nearly half (47%) of people in the survey reported feeling more in control after quitting vaping.

Quitting e-cigarettes may also reduce the risk of certain health conditions, but more research is needed. Some chemicals present in e-cigarette aerosols, such as formaldehyde and acrolein, can cause DNA damage and mutagenesis that can lead to cancer, and long-term exposure to e-cigarette aerosols could increase the risk of cancer and adverse reproductive outcomes. When evaluating the risks of e-cigarette use, it is important to note that exposure to harmful chemicals inhaled by e-cigarette users can vary greatly depending on e-cigarette device characteristics (voltage, flavor, nicotine) and how the device is used.

Resources are available for those looking to quit

For those wanting to quit smoking, vaping e-cigarettes, or using other tobacco products, there are resources to help.

Teens and young adults can text “DITCHVAPE” to 88709 and get immediate help.

A first-of-its-kind, free and anonymous text messaging program from truth designed to help young people quit vaping has become a resource for nearly 750,000 young people. The program incorporates messages from others in the same age group who have attempted to or successfully quit vaping nicotine. A randomized clinical trial found that young adults ages 18-24 who used the program had nearly 40% higher odds of quitting compared to a control group. A second clinical trial proved that the program is not only successful in helping young people quit vaping nicotine, but also in ensuring that they don’t later use combustible tobacco products in place of e-cigarettes.

People of all ages can quit with EX Program

Tobacco users of any age can access resources about quitting smoking, vaping nicotine, or any tobacco product with EX Program. EX Program combines the scientific leadership in digital tobacco solutions from Truth Initiative with a proven treatment model from the Mayo Clinic, providing the personalized support tobacco users need to combat the behavioral, social, and physical aspects of addiction. EX Program also incorporates the longest running online community where current quitters and former tobacco users gather to support each other. It’s a special place to get support, and research shows that people who follow the EX quit plan have up to four times higher odds of quitting compared to those who try to quit unassisted.