What Happens When You Start Smoking?
Smoking is impactful even with just one puff. That first puff of smoking allows nicotine to reach the brain in seconds. Then, nicotine, like other addictive substances, begins by flooding the brain's reward circuits with a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Nicotine also produces a small amount of adrenaline, which causes the heart to beat faster and blood pressure to rise248.
What Happens When You Start Smoking?
What the research agrees on for sure is that the moment one starts smoking, it becomes challenging to stop due to nicotine’s addictive nature249. Aside from the sensual feeling of the brain being rewarded with dopamine250, some negative side effects to first-time smokers include pain or burning in their throat or lungs, coughing, and potential vomiting251. Naturally, these side effects turn into more severe ones, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer, to list a few, should the individual continue smoking.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking?
It is a given that when you quit smoking, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, which might not be pleasant. However, keep in mind that the benefits of quitting outweigh the drawbacks of smoking.
Once you quit, your body will experience the positives in less than half an hour, and those positive effects will continue for years to come252.
- Your heart rate and blood pressure will usually return to normal within half an hour of quitting smoking.
- When you smoke, your blood contains 3 to 15 times more carbon monoxide, a hazardous toxin. A headache, a quicker heart rate, dizziness, or nausea may occur at greater levels.
- Less than a day after you quit, your level returns to normal. This frees up more oxygen for your heart, brain, and other organs in your red blood cells.
- The leading cause of heart attacks is smoking. After just one day without smoking, your risk decreases and continues to decline. If you've already had a heart attack and quit smoking, your chances of getting another one are reduced by half.
- Cigarette smoke contains toxins that destroy the cells that let you taste and smell. When you stop smoking, these cells appear to come back quickly, sometimes in as little as 48 hours.
- Cigarette smoke irritates the passageways that allow air to enter and exit your lungs. It may be more challenging to breathe as a result of this. However, once the tubes relax, they get significantly better within 72 hours after quitting. You might also notice an increase in energy.
Also read to know more on the health benefits of quitting smoking, here.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking and Start Again253?
When you quit smoking and start again, relapse is fairly common within months and years. A variety of factors can cause relapse, but in most cases, the leading cause can be traced back to people's attitudes and habits. When you start smoking again after you have quit, your body experiences similar negative effects of smoking. On a psychological level, you may feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and angry at yourself for smoking again. Nonetheless, relapse can be an opportunity for you to understand what triggered you to light up a cigarette and reconsider that trigger for next time.
In conclusion, staying away from all of these products is the only thing that truly helps. This isn't always simple, especially if you're surrounded by people who smoke or vape. If you smoke or vape and wish to quit, there is a wealth of information and resources accessible to you. For many people, quitting smoking takes different forms. Nicotine replacement therapy in the form of skin patches and gums is one successful method for reducing the negative effects of smoking and helping you quit.
- 248 https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/why-people-start-using-tobacco.html
- 249 Stolerman, I. P., & Jarvis, M. J. (1995). The scientific case is that nicotine is addictive. Psychopharmacology, 117(1), 2-10.
- 250 DiFranza, J. R. (2008). Hooked from the first cigarette. Scientific American, 298(5), 82-87.
- 251 DiFranza, J. R., Savageau, J. A., Fletcher, K., Ockene, J. K., Rigotti, N. A., McNeill, A. D., ... & Wood, C. (2004). Recollections and repercussions of the first inhaled cigarette. Addictive behaviors, 29(2), 261-272.
- 252 https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/how_to_quit/benefits/index.htm
- 253 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4517970