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Give up smoking – If you have a brain worth saving… Don’t Smoke


Yesterday I was hit hard by the sobering news of a school friend who died. I only went top school with him for two months, but we formed a close friendship very quickly – one of a precious handful of people in my life that simply jumped into my life without needing to try.It was effortless.

We weren’t overly similar, our humour was different but we just gelled. We had that instant rapport that is so rare. He was a health nut at school, the best bowler (cricket) I’ve ever seen in an amateur and had a vitality and love of life that I shared. We just clicked.

Adam is dead now. He’s dead because, somehow, he thought smoking occassionally fit within his idea of ‘all things in moderation’ – i.e. being healthy. He exercised, ate healthily, drank plenty of water and even sent me details of new-fangled antioxidant research (he was, like me, an enthusiastic amateur biologist)

The world is a poorer place for Adam’s loss and so I thought I would explain some things to those who somehow think smoking occassionally is ‘safe’…

Of course my thoughts go out to his family and friends – but words of support would be an empty gesture to a great guy.

…No. My hope is that perhaps, just perhaps, my words below might encourage another great person, one I have never met before and may never meet in the future, from extinguishing their last cigarette instead of extinguishing themselves.

why stop smoking?

Smoking looks UGLY.

Smoking is killing you.

Smoking is drying out your skin so you age quicker.

Why smoking is going to kill you

Firstly – it’s not the nicotine! The radioactivity in every cigarette is killing you MUCH more efficiently!

I laugh inwardly at people who are scared of x-rays when they smoke a packet of cigarettes every day.

They are receiving the equivalent radiation of 200 or more x-rays per year, yet because they unconsciously support their own ignorance of the dangers of smoking while x-rays are upfront about the radiation, X-Rays seem unsafe to them!

What?? This is like being scared of going outside because you are aware of the risk of lightning striking you while being ignorantly delighted to use an electric hair dryer when you are still wet from the shower!

Seriously? Duh!

But let’s ignore the radiation for a moment and talk about what happens when you STOP smoking…

(Extracted from www.whyquit.com and edited by moi in bold)

  • 20 minutes
Your blood pressure, pulse rate, and the temperature of your hands and feet will all return to normal. Your hands stop shaking like a crazy person!
  • 8 hours
Remaining nicotine in your bloodstream will have fallen to 6.25% of normal peak daily levels, a 93.75% reduction.
  • 12 hours
Your blood oxygen level will have increased to normal and carbon monoxide levels will have dropped to normal. (You’re not sucking on the same gas that comes out of a car’s exhaust. You know – the way some people KILL themselves? Yeah, that.)
  • 24 hours
Anxieties peak in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels. (right now you are pissed off because the poison you’ve been taking had a built-in addictive chemical so you are going to be as narky as a township of premenstrual hammer throwers. Safety Tip:  remove sharp objects if you live with someone  😉 )
  • 48 hours
Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal (Wow! You DO have fingertips, who would have thought, eh?) . Cessation anger and irritability peaks. (You are still narky – it will pass)
  • 72 hours
Your entire body will test 100% nicotine-free and over 90% of all nicotine metabolites (the chemicals it breaks down into) will now have passed from your body via your urine.Symptoms of chemical withdrawal have peaked in intensity, including restlessness. The number of cue induced crave episodes experienced during any quitting day will peak for the “average” ex-user. (You will want a cigarette NOW! Resist – your body is winning the war!) Lung bronchial tubes leading to air sacs (alveoli) are beginning to relax in recovering smokers. Breathing is becoming easier and the lungs functional abilities are starting to increase. (Isn’t it amazing to smell the air you breathe? Well maybe not the sweaty guy next to you at the gym, but hey! Life is full of challenges  🙄 )
  • 5 – 8 days
The “average” ex-smoker will encounter an “average” of three cue induced crave episodes per day. Although we may not be “average” and although serious cessation time distortion can make minutes feel like hours, it is unlikely that any single episode will last longer than 3 minutes. Keep a clock handy and time them. (what he said)
  • 10 days
10 days – The “average ex-user is down to encountering less than two crave episodes per day, each less than 3 minutes. (I personally found this had stopped by day 7)
  • 10 days to 2 weeks
Recovery has likely progressed to the point where your addiction is no longer doing the talking. Blood circulation in our gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user. (Ever chipped a tooth at a club and wondered the next morning how it happened? It wasn’t a bar fight or the alcohol deadening your senses, you probably took a BITE out of a glass  😮 )
  • 2 to 4 weeks
Cessation related anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, restlessness and depression have ended. If still experiencing any of these symptoms get seen and evaluated by your physician. (See a doctor if you still have cravings – but chances are you had a cigarette to take the edge off, so take this into account before giving up on giving up…)
  • 21 days
Brain acetylcholine receptor counts up-regulated in response to nicotine’s presence have now down-regulated and receptor binding has returned to levels seen in the brains of non-smokers.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months
Your heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve. (Stairs aren’t scary anymore – why not try running up some, just to be a dare devil? )
  • 3 weeks to 3 months
Your circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared.
  • 1 to 9 months
Any smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath have decreased. Cilia have regrown in your lungs thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean, and reduce infections. Your body’s overall energy has increased. (I found this after 2 weeks but it gets better and better)
  • 1 year
Your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.
  • 5 to 15 years
Your risk of stroke has declined to that of a non-smoker.
  • 10 years
Your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30% and 50% of that for a continuing smoker (2005 study). Risk of death from lung cancer has declined by almost half if you were an average smoker (one pack per day).  Your risk of pancreatic cancer has declined to that of a never-smoker (2011 study), while risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus has also declined. Your risk of developing diabetes is now similar to that of a never-smoker (2012 study).
  • 13 years
Your risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a never-smoker (2006 study).
  • 15 years
Your risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who has never smoked.
  • 20 years
Female excess risk of death from all smoking related causes, including lung disease and cancer, has now reduced to that of a never-smoker (2008 study). Risk of pancreatic cancer reduced to that of a never-smoker (2011 study).


Other resources:

  • http://www.quitnow.gov.au/internet/quitnow/publishing.nsf
  • http://whyquit.com/whyquit/a_benefits_time_table.html
  • http://www.joelspitzer.com/smoke_in_the_lung.htm
  • http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/NB04020.htm
  • (On radiation intake levels not specific to smoking) http://www.ansto.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/45314/Ionising_Rad_broch_lr.pdf
  • (On radiation from cigarettes) http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/09/27/ntr.ntr145.abstract
6 Responses
  1. Frank Chung says:

    Amen! I can’t believe people are still into this habit 😮

  2. Forrest says:

    Hello there! This is my first comment here
    so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say
    I really enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend
    any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?
    Thanks for your time!

  3. Dee says:

    Hurrah, that’s what I was exploring for, what a information! existing here at this web site, thanks Trent!

  4. Ah excellent, I am “in the process of quitting smoking”, been 123 days (not that I am counting). Definitely the best thing I have done, more taste, more breath, more energy, less stress (about wondering where the next smoke is coming from), don’t have to hide the habbit etc etc!

    Well done and obviously a passionate article because someone close to you has been affected.

    Now, if only those smokers out there, will read it while they are puffing away!

    • Trent says:

      Congrats Anthony!

      Always good to hear when someone has made a choice to make a positive change in their life (don’t worry, I won’t go all peace-love-and-mung-beans on you now). Yes, it was something close to my heart and the radioactivity was a new (to me) twist that really made me stop and be grateful I hadn’t looked longingly at a cigarette since a few years before my first was born.

      Keep up the good work! And share the joy, damn it! Too many people don’t share their experiences so thanks for sharing here – imagine if you stop one person smoking… that’s the thing I love about writing books and a comment on a blog at the right time, can do the same thing long after you’ve forgotten you posted a comment. What a kick to make a difference in the life of someone you never meet, eh?

      What a bloody marvelous thing, this interwebs thingamajig is 😉

  5. decyzje srodowiskowe says:

    Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and will come back someday. I want to encourage continue your great job, have a nice evening!

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