​Smoking remains a leading cause of death and disability in NSW, accounting for around 5,300 deaths and 46,000 hospitalisations each year. Half of all long-term smokers will die prematurely because they smoked.

Last updated: 16 April 2018

The best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit smoking. It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, young or old or how long you have been smoking, quitting will improve your health. Even if you already have a smoking-related problem like heart or lung disease, you still benefit from quitting.

There are many benefits to quitting and some occur within hours and days

Time since quittingHow your health benefits
20 minutesYour heart rate decreases
12-24 hours The level of carbon monoxide in your expired air has decreased
2-12 weeksYour risk of heart attack begins to reduce
Your lung function improves making exercise easier
1-9 months Coughing and shortness of breath decrease
1 year Your risk of coronary heart disease is halved
5 yearsYour risk of mouth, throat and oesophageal cancer and stroke decreases
10 yearsYour risk of lung cancer is halved and your risk of bladder, kidney and pancreatic cancer decreases
15 years Your risk of coronary heart disease and risk of death decrease to about the same as someone who has never smoked

Health benefits of quitting

  • If you quit before age 35 your life expectancy is similar to someone who has never smoked.
  • If you quit before age 50 you halve your risk of dying before you turn 65.
  • Quitting at any age increases life expectancy and improves quality of life.
  • Quitting smoking reduces your risk of:
    • cancer of the lung, throat, mouth, lips, gums, kidney and bladder
    • heart disease and stroke
    • emphysema and other lung diseases
    • gangrene and other circulatory diseases
    • blindness from macular degeneration and cataracts
    • brittle bones that break easily
    • impotence, infertility and miscarriages
    • sickly and small babies.

Your appearance also benefits from quitting smoking. It reduces the risk of:

  • wrinkles and looking older faster
  • yellow teeth and bad breath.

Quitting smoking is also good for the health of your children. A smoke-free environment for your children lowers their risk of:

  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS or cot death)
  • ear infections
  • asthma and allergies
  • bronchitis and other lung problems
  • becoming smokers themselves.

Some other benefits of quitting:

  • Saving money. If you spend $100 a week on cigarettes then you will save more than $5,000 for each year you don’t smoke
  • Your sense of taste and smell will improve
  • You will have more energy and a better quality of life
  • Cigarettes will no longer control your life.

Remember, it’s never too late to quit smoking. The sooner you quit the better.

For help with quitting smoking contact the Quitline 13 78 48 (13 QUIT) or speak with your health professional.

Visit the website ICanQuit and QuitNow. ​​

Current as at: Monday 16 April 2018
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health