If you smoke, you've likely heard the pleas from friends and family to quit. You probably know that smoking makes heart disease, stroke, cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other killers more likely. You might even know that smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S. and worldwide.
But knowing about long-term risks may not be enough to nudge you to quit, especially if you're young. It can be hard to feel truly frightened by illnesses that may strike decades later. And quitting...
After 48 hours: Your ability to taste and smell starts to return.
After 72 hours: The bronchial tubes (airways) relax.
After two weeks to three months: Your circulation improves.
After one to nine months: Cilia (tiny hairs) in the lungs regrow, increasing the lung's capacity to handle mucus, clean itself, and reduce infection. Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath also decrease.
After one to five years: Your risk of dying from heart disease is cut to half that of a lifelong smoker's risk.
After 10 years: Your risk of dying from lung cancer drops to almost the same rate as that of a lifelong nonsmoker. Your risk for mouth, larynx, and other cancers decreases.