Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation

Quitting the use of tobacco is one of the most important health decisions an individual can make. There are thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke and many of them are harmful and carcinogenic. Smoking increases the risk of developing adverse health effects, like heart disease, respiratory problems and cancer. The benefits of quitting accrue immediately and in the long term.


Giving up tobacco can add years on to your life. People that quit smoking before they are 40 reduce the chance of premature death from smoking related diseases by 90 percent. Those that quit before their mid-fifties can reduce that risk by two-thirds.1

Heart and cardiovascular health

Smoking causes harm to the heart and cardiovascular system. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the heart and blood vessels. Smokers that quit can expect better circulation and reduced risk of heart disease and benefits can accrue in as little as 20 minutes.2 One study found that heavy smokers that quit had a 39% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease within 5 years of quitting.3

Lung and respiratory health

Since the product is inhaled, shortness of breath is a common condition in smokers. Chronic smokers run the risk of seriously damaging their lungs and the rest of their respiratory system. This damage can increase the smoker’s risk of infection and can lead to emphysema. Smoking causes damage to lung tissue DNA resulting in a greater risk of developing lung cancer.4

Reduce the risk of developing cancer

In addition to lung cancer, smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body. Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause damage to the body’s cells rendering them cancerous. In particular, most lung cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes. Smoking also impedes the immune system from functioning effectively and less able to fight cancerous cells. Within 5 years of quitting smoking the risk of developing certain cancers drops in half and after 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer drops in half.5

Reproductive health

Tobacco smoke can negatively impact both male and female fertility by interfering with hormone production and damaging sperm DNA. During pregnancy, smoking and secondhand smoke endanger the health of both the mother and baby. A woman exposed to tobacco smoke has a greater risk of developing complications during pregnancy and the baby has an elevated risk of experiencing impaired growth and development. Smoking cessation has an important role in improving reproductive health and the health of babies.6

Additional benefits

Smoking weakens the body’s immune system, making it harder to battle gum infection. A smoker has twice the risk for gum disease compared to a nonsmoker.7 The symptoms of gum disease are also unpleasant and include: bad breath, bleeding gums, painful chewing, receding gums, and loose teeth.8 Smoking also can speed up the process of skin aging leading to premature skin wrinkling.9 A study of 1,312 people found 18% had trouble with their sense of smell and 20% had taste impairment. Those that smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day had an increased risk for impairment in both senses.10 Smoking cessation can help bring back the sense of smell and taste and provide more energy.11

For more information about using a Monday cue to support healthy behavior, read The Monday Campaigns Research.  Visit our Resources page for more creative material and resources to promote Quit & Stay Quit Monday.

[1] Reasons to quit. 

[2] How smoking affects heart health. 2020. US Food and Drug Administration.

[3] Duncan MS, Freiburg MS, Greevy RA Jr, et al. Association of smoking cessation with subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease. [published online August 20, 2019]. JAMA. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.10298.

[4] Health effects.

[5] Cancer. 2018. Smoking & tobacco use. Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

[6] Smoking and reproductive health. 2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[7] Smoking, gum disease, and tooth loss. 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[8] Periodontal (gum) disease. 2018. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. NIH.

[9] Hays, J.T. 2017. Is it true that smoking causes wrinkles? Mayo Clinic.

[10] Vennemann et al. 2008. The association between smoking and smell and taste impairment in the general population. J Neurol. 2008 Aug;255(8):1121-6.

[11] Why do you want to quit?