Wednesday, May 31 is the World Tobacco-Free Day, an annual event promoted by the World Health Organization to encourage people to quit smoking and to raise awareness of the damage of cigarette smoking.


Why is it so important to stop smoking and what happens in our bodies when we no longer introduce nicotine?

We discover the answers with Dr. Licia Siracusano, oncologist and contact person of the Anti-Smoking Centre at Humanitas.


Lowering the heart rate – after twenty minutes

It is beneficial to stop smoking right away: after 20 minutes, your heart rate is lowered and will tend to normalize.


Normalization of blood pressure levels – after 2 hours

Two hours without smoking produces a lowering of heart rate and a normalization of blood pressure levels, there are also benefits to blood circulation.


Decrease in body carbon monoxide levels – after 12 hours

Carbon monoxide is released from the tobacco that burns and is inhaled while smoking. This substance binds to blood cells very well, so high levels of carbon monoxide in the body can compromise the binding of cells to oxygen, with a shortage of oxygen in the blood and consequent cardiovascular problems.

After 12 hours from the last cigarette, carbon monoxide levels decrease, while oxygen levels in the blood increase.


Reduced risk of coronary heart disease – after 24 hours

Smokers are 70% more at risk of coronary heart disease, one of the most common diseases, compared to non-smokers. In addition to reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, the risk of heart attack is also reduced.


Recovery of the sense of taste and smell – after 2 days

Stopping smoking encourages the growth of nerve endings, with a recovery of taste and smell. After 3 days it also improves lung capacity.


Improves the appearance of skin and hair – after 2-8 weeks

Skin and hair look healthier: hair appears less dull, skin is more elastic and wrinkles are reduced.


Reduced coughing and shortness of breath – after 1-9 months

After a month without cigarettes, the lung lashes (tiny structures that push the mucus out of the lungs) begin to shelter. If healthy, they can fight infections and release lungs efficiently. Having free lungs significantly decreases coughing and shortness of breath.


Lower risk of heart and lung disease and cancer

After one year, the risk of cardiovascular disease is falling. After five years, the risk of heart attack and neoplastic disease decreases.

15 years after the last cigarette, the risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema is equal to that of a non-smoker, as well as that of cancer.