Quitting smoking is a great step towards a healthier lifestyle, and achieving a nicotine free lifestyle can be even moreso. There are more alternatives available for smoking cessation-seekers than ever before, from vaping products like ours to nicotine replacement therapy like patches, gums and lozenges infused with nicotine. Nicotine pouches are among the newest alternatives to hit the market.
The reason these products exist is because there is an ever-growing desire amongst people to leave behind smoking and the many risks it carries. However you choose to abstain from smoking, there are a few things to take note of before starting that process.
It is most important to speak to your GP, or a stop smoking service so you can be more confident that the route you take is the bets one for your needs! Everyone is different, so the information in this blog should only serve as an introduction – but read on as we explore some of the changes in your body and mind you can expect when quitting smoking.
A Timeline of Quitting Smoking
Stopping smoking is a process, it takes time. For some it may take less or more than others, but ultimately healthcare experts agree that our bodies go through some common stages of recovery and even withdrawal when we put down the last cigarette (see sources below).
The recovery aspect applies to the negative side effects caused by the many harmful chemicals inhaled through cigarette smoke. The withdrawal is down to nicotine content – something that can be replaced with alternatives like vaping.
Using information from the NHS and WebMD, we’ve put together the below timeline of physical and metal changes you can expect when stopping smoking and abstaining from nicotine. Remember when reading this that supplementing your nicotine supply via vaping or NRTs may reduce the impact of some nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
- After 20 minutes
After only 20 minutes after stopping smoking your pulse rate will drop back down to a normal level.
- After 30 minutes to 4 hours
The effects of nicotine will wear off – this can trigger cravings, try not to relapse – using alternatives can help manage these without exposing you to as much harm as cigarettes. Vaping for example has been found to be 95% safer.
- After 8 hours
8 hours in you can expect your body’s oxygen levels to be recovering, and the level of carbon monoxide in your blood will have halved.
- After 10 hours
If not supplementing the nicotine with alternative products, you may notice a feeling of restlessness alongside cravings.
- After 24 hours
After a full day without nicotine you might become a little irritable – don’t worry this will pass. Despite this you should notice your appetite (which is suppressed by nicotine) begins to increase.
- After 48 hours
By now all the carbon monoxide in your blood should have been flushed out. You may notice a chesty cough for a short while, but this is because your lungs will be clearing out mucus. Your sense of taste and smell will also be bouncing back.
Again, if not supplementing your nicotine, you may experience some headaches as the residual nicotine leaves your system.
- After 72 hours
You might notice breathing has become easier, this is because by now, your bronchial tubes have relaxed. As a bonus, your energy levels should be increasing too.
By this point any nicotine should have left your system, meaning cravings should taper off. Some people do experience bouts of anxiety, support from stop smoking services can help with this.
- After 2 to 12 weeks
Your circulation will have improved a lot, meaning blood is pumping to your heart and muscles much more easily.
After 2 to 4 weeks some people may experience a feeling of ‘brain fog’ lifting. This can also alleviate feelings of depression or anxiety as nicotine withdrawal lessens.
- After 3 to 9 months
You should notice any coughing, wheezing, or other breathing difficulties will be improving as your lungs function increases by around 10%.
Most if not all symptoms of nicotine withdrawal should be gone by this point, and your biggest challenge is staying strong and avoiding temptation.
- After 1 year
Your risk of a heart attack is now half as much as a current smoker’s.
- After 10 years
Your risk of lung cancer is now half of that of a current smoker.
Keep an Eye on Your vape Behaviour
If you’ve chosen vaping as an alternative, you gain the added benefit of being able to move down through the strengths, however when doing so, make sure you do it in incremental stages. If you jump to far, say from an 18mg to a 6mg, you might not be getting enough nicotine to satisfy your cravings.
This means that you may run a higher risk of relapsing, or you may notice your vaping frequency increases quite a bit. Neither of these are positives, and so to avoid this you should take small steps – 18mg to 12mg, then 6mg and 3mg before transitioning to nicotine free e-liquid.
Don’t worry if you occasionally have to switch back to a higher strength liquid for a while during stressful times or other challenging situations where temptation runs high. This is perfectly normal so long as you are trending downwards. You can learn more about this process in our blog Stepping Down Nicotine Strengths.