After You Quit Smoking - The First Two Days

How Your Body Reacts to Smoking Cessation

Hand holding cigarette in ashtray
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When you quit smoking, the health benefits begin within minutes of your last cigarette. According to the Surgeon General's 2004 report, The Health Consequences of Smoking, physical improvements in our bodies begin within the first hour of smoking cessation.

At 20 minutes after quitting:

At 8 hours smoke-free:

At 24 hours smoke-free:

At 48 hours smoke-free:

  • Nerve endings start to regrow.
  • Ability to smell and taste improves.

That's a lot of improvement for just 48 hours of smoking cessation.

The chemicals in cigarettes affect us in more ways than we realize. When we quit and start to see changes in the discomforts we've been living with, like headaches, chronic sinus irritation and fatigue, for instance, we start to put two and two together.   

That's not to say that every physical ailment can be traced to tobacco use, but you will probably be pleasantly surprised at some of the changes that take place once you stop smoking. 

Best of all, this is just the beginning. You can look forward to many additional improvements in the days and months to come.

Make The Decision to Quit and Stick To It

It takes courage to put down that last cigarette and start smoking cessation.

Most people feel an intense combination of fear and excitement leading up to their quit date. Feeling afraid to quit smoking is completely normal, and is a by-product of nicotine addiction.

Don't let that fear paralyze you, however. Pick your quit date and stick to it. The benefits you'll experience in the short and long term are well worth the work it takes to achieve.

Breaking the Chains of Slavery

Years of associating literally everything we did in our lives with smoking created powerful links in the chain of psychological dependence we had on nicotine.

We thought we enjoyed smoking.

We convinced ourselves that smoking calmed our nerves and helped us think more clearly.

We thought of cigarettes as a friend, a companion, a buddy.

We thought smoking helped us have more fun and enjoy life more fully.

Logically, we knew better, but addiction can make people rationalize and justify all kinds of crazy notions.

The truth of the matter is, we (understandably) like the feeling of relief we get when the nicotine level in our bloodstream is replenished.

From the time a cigarette is stubbed out until the next one is lit, smokers are in a state of physical withdrawal from nicotine. The more time between cigarettes, the more severe the withdrawal, resulting in edginess, inability to concentrate, and even feelings of depression.

It's a vicious, never-ending cycle.

That is addiction folks, not smoking enjoyment.

We don't think of smoking as enslaving and self-destructive when we first start, but over time addiction quietly teaches us that we are weak and powerless.  Most of us want to stop long before we do.

Read a few goodbye letters people have written to their cigarettes as they've gone through the process of quitting tobacco. These compositions describe how enslaving and self-destructive nicotine addiction is, and how empowering smoking cessation can be. Write your own goodbye letter, too.  It's great therapy.

Support for Your Quit Program

Support is a key ingredient to a solid quit smoking program. The About Smoking Cessation support forum offers some of the best quit smoking support the Internet has to offer. You’ll meet people who are going through what you are, or have been there and can offer constructive advice.

Your resolve will be bolstered more than you can imagine just by being around others who have the same goals you do. 

Please remember that quitting tobacco is a process. It takes time. Your courage to take that first step and throw the butts away is a choice you'll never regret making. Your life will improve a thousandfold when you have kicked tobacco out, once and for all.

Next: Quit Smoking Benefits: 2 Weeks to 3 Months

2004 Surgeon General's Report: Poster: Within 20 Minutes of Quitting 27 May 2004. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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