What happens when you stop smoking?

Posted: March 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Singapore’s smoking prevalence is among the lowest in the world. Concerted efforts of our National Smoking Control Programme since the 1970s, have reduced our smoking prevalence from above 25% to below 14% currently.  However, this still means that about 360,000 Singaporeans smoke. Our age-specific smoking prevalence exceeds 10% for all age groups, from 18 to 69, peaking at 17% for those aged 18 to 29 years.  Men are 6 times more likely to smoke than women. The age-specific male smoking prevalence exceeds 20% for all age groups from 18 to 69.  There is a significant racial difference.  Malays’ smoking prevalence is more than double that of Chinese or Indians.  Malay men aged 30 – 39 years, have the highest smoking prevalence of 49%, as compared to 19% for Chinese and 12% for Indians.  Fortunately, our female smoking prevalence is low, at single digit percentage, except for young Malay ladies (14%).  But more than half of women smokers are below 29 years old and their smoking rate has risen sharply from 5% in 1998 to 9% in 2007.

In Singapore:

  • About 7 Singaporeans die prematurely from smoking-related diseases each day.
  • Smoking-related diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – also known as Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD)- , are the nation’s top killers.
  • The social cost of smoking in 1997 ranged from S$673 to S$839 million. The social cost of smoking in Singapore includes the direct costs (payments for hospitalisation and healthcare due to smoking), morbidity costs (lost production due to smoking related illnesses) and mortality costs (lost production from people who died early due to smoking).


The best time to quit smoking is RIGHT NOW. And while quitting is tough, you can start counting the benefits of not smoking in as little as 20 minutes. Here’s what happens to your body when you quit smoking.

Smoking Cessation Timeline:

  • In 20 minutes, your blood pressure and pulse rate decrease, and the body temperature of your hands and feet increase.
  • Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. At 8 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood decreases to normal. With the decrease in carbon monoxide, your blood oxygen level increases to normal.
  • At 24 hours, your risk of having a heart attack decreases.
  • At 48 hours, nerve endings start to regrow and the ability to smell and taste is enhanced.
  • Between 2 weeks and 3 months, your circulation improves, walking becomes easier and you don’t cough or wheeze as often. Phlegm production decreases. Within several months, you have significant improvement in lung function.
  • In 1 to 9 months, coughs, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease as you continue to see significant improvement in lung function. Cilia, tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs, regain normal function.
  • In 1 year, risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack is reduced to half that of a smoker.
  • Between 5 and 15 years after quitting, your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker.
  • In 10 years, your risk of lung cancer drops. Additionally, your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decrease. Even after a decade of not smoking however, your risk of lung cancer remains higher than in people who have never smoked. Your risk of ulcer also decreases.
  • In 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack in similar to that of people who have never smoked. The risk of death returns to nearly the level of a non-smoker.




Walter Jessen Smoking Cessation Timeline: What Happens When You Quit Retrieved from, http://www.highlighthealth.com/cancer/smoking-cessation-timeline-what-happens-when-you-quit/

Ministry of Health Smoking Trend Retrieved from, http://www.moh.gov.sg/mohcorp/parliamentaryqa.aspx?id=23664


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