Q: How long after I quit smoking will I begin to see the
A: Almost immediately. Here’s a quick rundown from the Cleveland
After 20 minutes: Your blood pressure and pulse decrease. The
temperature of your hands and feet increases.
After eight hours: The carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to
normal. Oxygen levels in your blood increase.
After 24 hours: Your chance of heart attack decreases.
After 48 hours: Your ability to taste and smell starts...
Is there really such a thing? The surprising answer is yes. Some people
really do smoke just a few cigarettes a week. But if you think you're one of
them, think again.
Researchers call them "chippers." There's much to learn from this.
The term is a slang word for heroin users who try to avoid addiction by
infrequent use of small drug doses. It's not a strategy that often works -- for
heroin, or for nicotine, says Elizabeth E. Lloyd-Richardson, PhD, assistant
professor of psychiatry and health behavior at Brown University, Providence,
R.I. She's an expert in adolescent and college-age smoking behavior.
"This is absolutely not a good thing to try," Lloyd-Richardson tells
WebMD. "We certainly know the health risks associated with smoking. At this
point we have not determined a safe amount of smoking. Research also suggests
that particularly with adolescents, they often are kind of lulled into this
sense they can smoke a little in social situations and then can quit when they
go to college or get a job. And we don't actually see that happening that much.
Overall, these smokers end up smoking for many, many more years than they
It's not entirely a bad thing for a person to try to smoke just a little
instead of a lot, says Jack E. Henningfield, PhD, professor of psychiatry at
Johns Hopkins Medical School.
"The good side is if a person is honest, and truly is only smoking in
social situations -- and those are not daily situations -- that person
is at a lower level of dependence," Henningfield tells WebMD. "If
properly motivated, such people should be able to quit completely. And they
should. A person wouldn't go out to their car four times a week and inhale
exhaust fumes. But that is the health equivalent of smoking cigarettes four
times a week."
Just like one shot of heroin, one cigarette leads to another. Well, not just
like heroin. Cigarettes may be more addictive than heroin or cocaine.
Two-thirds to three-fourths of current cocaine users, Henningfield notes, did
not use the drug in the last month. But two-thirds of current cigarette smokers
had a cigarette today.
"The other bad side of social smoking: Like a lot of people on the road
to addiction, many of these people are flat-out denying they do have a
problem," Henningfield says. "So people say, 'Oh, I only smoke when I
drink socially' -- like in the bar -- but they find themselves going to the bar
more often. And with cigarettes, soon they find themselves out on the street at
20 degrees below freezing with the other social smokers."