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Quit Smoking: How to quit smoking

Updated on April 28, 2010

Smoking ages your skin by restricting blood vessels and reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to your skin, making it pale.

Quit Smoking and Look Better Inside and Out

Goodbye wrinkles

Smoking ages your skin by restricting blood vessels and reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to your skin, making it pale. Smoking also produces an enzyme that breaks down collagen, which is the substance that maintains your skin's elasticity1.

Wrinkles and premature aging of the skin from smoke damage are irreversible, however stopping smoking dramatically slows further damage.

Boost your skin condition by drinking plenty of water and feed it with antioxidants from fruit and vegetables. These, combined with the boost in oxygen from stopping smoking, will help give you a healthy glow and help fight smoke damage.

Say "cheese"

Most people suffer from some form of gum disease - swelling, soreness, or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth - during their life. If left untreated this can eventually cause your teeth to fall out.

Because tobacco products cause damage to the gums, smokers are at greater risk for developing gum disease (periodontal disease) and oral cancer. Receding gums, which increase the risk of tooth decay and sensitivity to hot and cold, are also common among smokers2.

To prevent and treat gum disease you need to remove all the plaque from your teeth everyday by brushing and flossing. You should also regularly visit your dental hygienist. Smoking can also cause yellowing of the teeth and is a cause of bad breath (halitosis). Now that you are a non-smoker you can take steps to reverse and prevent these conditions.

Chewing tobacco also puts you at a greatly increased risk of developing a number of other mouth problems. These include permanent gum recession, where the gums fall away from the teeth, mouth sores, precancerous lesions in the mouth and cancers of the mouth and throat. Quitting tobacco dramatically reduces your risk of developing these.

Hair and nails

Although tobacco doesn't have a direct effect on your hair, your hair can carry the smell of smoke. If you are in a smoky environment the smoke binds to your hair, making it look dirty more quickly. As you have only recently quit, you may find it easier to avoid smoky places completely for a little while so you are not tempted to have "just one"...

Prolonged smoking can cause discoloration of the fingers and fingernails of the hand used to hold the cigarette. This will eventually wear off, as the skin and nail are constantly regenerating and you won't be exposing them to the damaging effect of the cigarettes.

Heart health

Smoking is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. Smokers are up to 4 times more likely to die of heart disease than nonsmokers. Smoking causes damage to your artery walls, hardening or narrowing of your arteries, and blood clots - all of which can lead to heart attack and stroke3.

Congratulations! Stopping smoking is the biggest single thing you could have done to benefit your heart. No matter what your age or health, quitting smoking has rewards for your heart


Breathe deeply

Like your heart, your lungs are one of the big beneficiaries of your decision to quit. Lung cancer, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis would be rare if people didn't smoke.

Stopping smoking allows the cells inside your lungs the opportunity to regenerate, and the chance to do what they are supposed to do if they weren't clogged up with all the tar from the cigarettes.

Inside your lungs are lots of little cells - cilia - that move foreign particles out of your lungs so that they don't get deep into your lungs and cause infection. If these are coated in tar they can't do their job. When you first stop smoking, you may find that you are coughing a lot. Don't worry about this too much - it is a sign that your lungs are recovering and removing the debris from smoking.

You may also find over the next three to nine months that your breathing improves. This is because during that time, your lung function will increase by up to 10%.

Be brainy

Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen circulating around your body. Your brain needs oxygen to function and by quitting you are instantly giving your brain a well-deserved hit of oxygen.


  1. Factsheet no:10. How smoking affects the way you look. Action on Smoking and Health.
  2. Frequently asked questions -Tobacco Products. American Dental Association. Visited 20 June 2005.
  3. "Smoking Causes Cardiovascular Disease." The 2004 Surgeon General's Report on Smoking & Health: What It Means To You. Visited 20 June 2005.


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