Trying to stop smoking is hard, I know. Every time I ‘gave up’ smoking, I’d find myself bumming one from a stranger on the street. I’d probably say something like: “sorry to bother you, but could I bum a cig? I don’t have my own because I’m quitting,” which sounds like such crapola in hindsight. One colleague of mine passed me a cigarette and responded: “we’re all quitting.” It wasn’t exactly a eureka moment, and after that, I was definitely not magically cured of smoking or anything like that. However, his sardonic remark did make me realize something important: quitting really would take some work, not just hopes and wishes.
One of the first important steps in quitting smoking is to think seriously about creating a plan. If you’re like most smokers, you know that the good old “deciding-on-a-whim-that-this-is-my-last-cigarette” technique doesn’t work. You need something a little more defined than that.
What worked for me was to focus on the different aspects of healthy living I would earn back each day that I didn’t smoke. Worrying about cancer and emphysema sure are motivations to stop smoking, but I think focusing on health achievements is much more helpful. This is why I’ve created a timeline of things worth celebrating on your journey to becoming smoke-free. I’ve based the hypothetical money saved on the costs of smoking a half pack of cigarettes per day in New York City in 2017.
Day 1 | 6$
It’s only been a day but that doesn’t mean we have nothing to celebrate!
So far we’ve seen your blood health start to get back on track. Oxygen and carbon monoxide levels are back to a normal level, as well as your heart rate, blood pressure, and the temperature in your extremities (hands and feet). The nicotine in your blood has decreased by over 90%.
Day 3 | $18
At this point, there is no more nicotine in your blood and the nicotine metabolites (byproducts) are 90% gone. The symptoms of chemical withdrawal are at their peak, which means it’s only downhill from here! The tiny air sacs in your lungs, alveoli, which absorb oxygen are starting to soften and relax. You should start to feel some improvements in your breathing.
By about day 3, nerve endings are beginning to heal and the senses of taste and smell are coming back. This was a very important milestone for me. Suddenly smelling things again was very rewarding, even though it was just the odors of the New York City streets beneath my apartment window.
Day 14 | $84
Two weeks have passed since you quit, and by now your physical cravings should be almost gone. Maybe you still miss smoking outside of the bar with your friends or your morning cigarette with your coffee. However, the chemical dependency on nicotine should be over by now. Refraining from smoking should start to get easier from here on out.
Also, at this stage, blood circulation in your mouth, especially the gums, has returned to that of a non-smoker.
Day 21 | $126
Around this day, the receptors in your brain have normalized. While smoking, your brain produces more receptors for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. After about 3 weeks smoke-free, these receptors gradually return to their normal levels.
Day 28 | $168
One month has passed, and by now those nasty quitting-smoking emotions are out the door. Smoking cessation can lead to anger, irritability, depression, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms have probably made your past month quite painful, but thankfully that’s over with now.
Day 56 | $336
After about 2 months, insulin resistance has gone back down to normal. This means that your chances of developing diabetes are lower.
Day 90 | $540
Finally, we’re seeing some significant changes in our respiratory and circulatory health. Walking, breathing, and exercising should feel much easier nowadays.
This is a big one: around this time that horrible smoker’s cough should finally be disappearing. Say goodbye to coughing up a big green wad of mucus every morning and coughing so much it’s embarrassing. For me, getting rid of the smoker’s cough was a major achievement.
Day 252 | $1,512
After about 9 months, the cilia in our lungs have regrown. These cilia are tiny hairs that help maintain cleanliness in our lungs. They sweep away mucus and pollutants improving lung function.
Day 365 | $2,190
Congratulations! You’ve made one full circle around the sun without smoking any cigarettes. Celebrate this victory with the happy knowledge that you’ve reduced your excess risk for heart attack and stroke by 50%!
Day 1,825 | $10,950
Five years have gone by since you were a smoker; that’s a big deal. By now you’ve saved a mountain of money and done wonders to improve your health and longevity. At this point, your risk for stroke is almost normal and, for women, you’re no longer at an elevated risk of developing diabetes.
Day 3,650 | $21,900
It’s now been ten years and your risk for cancer has been significantly reduced. Also, both men and women are now at the normal risk-level for diabetes.
Day 4,745 | $28,470
This is the 13-year mark, and your risk for tooth decay and tooth loss is back to normal.
Day 7,300 | $43,800
After 20 years, it’s almost like you never smoked at all. Risks for all smoking-related diseases have gone back down to baseline.
At Breath Life Healing Centers, we have experts with the knowledge to help you break free from smoking. Founder Brad Lamm’s book, Hand to Mouth, describes our strategies on finally being able to stop smoking. Please reach out to us, we can help you be smoke-free.