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After You Quit Smoking - The First Two Days

The Healing Begins...


Updated June 02, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Hand holding cigarette in ashtray
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When you quit smoking, the benefits begin within minutes of your last cigarette.

At 20 minutes after quitting:

At 8 hours:
  • Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal.
  • Oxygen level in blood increases to normal.
At 24 hours: At 48 hours:
  • Nerve endings start to regrow.
  • Ability to smell and taste improves.

Deciding to Quit Smoking

It takes courage to put down that last cigarette and quit smoking. 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 addiction. Don't let that fear paralyze you, however, because the benefits you'll experience once you quit are well worth the work it takes to achieve.

Breaking the Chains of Slavery

Years of associating literally everything we did in our lives to 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...

...smokers like the feeling they get when the nicotine level in their 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.

And that is addiction, folks, not smoking enjoyment.

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.

Support for Your Quit Program

Support is a key ingredient to a solid quit smoking program. The Smoking Cessation Forum here at About.com 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. Visit as a guest and read what others have to say, or register (free) to join the discussions and post messages of your own.

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

Quit Smoking Benefits: 2 Weeks to 3 Months

Start the quitting process now by signing up for a free e-course.

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

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How to Effectively Quit Smoking

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