Lung Cancer Awareness Month: An Introduction to Smoking Cessation

Krystle Eckhart, PsyD, HSPBehavior changes usually involve five steps. They include the following:

  • Precontemplation: “I’m not ready to change yet.”
  • Contemplation: “I know that I should change but I’m not sure how.”
  • Preparation: “I have begun making small changes.”
  • Action: “I am ready to change now.”
  • Maintenance: “I have changed.”

Smoking cessation follows these stages, too. Throughout Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Think Whole Person Healthcare Integrated Behavioral Health Specialist Krystle Eckhart, PsyD, HSP, is writing a series of articles that will give you quick-hit information related to each stage.

Before we get into the stages, it’s important to know why we’re talking about this in the first place. What are the benefits to quitting smoking? How quick can I get the benefits?

Health benefits:

  • Broken addiction cycle
  • Better circulation
  • Improved taste and smell
  • More energy
  • More efficient/higher functioning immune system
  • Cleaner teeth and mouth
  • Improved sex life – yes!
  • Lower risk of cancer

The benefits of smoking cessation begin shortly after you smoke your last cigarette, regardless of how long you’ve smoked cigarettes.

Timeline after last cigarette:

  • 20 minutes: Heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • Temperature of hands and feet increase to normal.
  • 8 hours: Carbon monoxide levels in blood return to normal. Blood oxygen level increases to normal
  • 24 hours: Chance of heart attack decreases
  • 48 hours: Nerve endings start re-growing therefore ability to smell and taste is enhanced
  • 2 weeks – 3 months: Risk of heart attack drops. Circulation improves and lung function increases up to 30 percent
  • 1 – 9 months: Coughing, sinus congestion, and shortness of breath decrease. Ability to fight lung infection increases. Overall energy levels rise
  • 1 year: Excess risk of heart disease is cut in half
  • 5 years: Stroke risk is that of a person who has never smoked
  • 10 years: Risk of lung cancer is that of a person who has never smoked. Risk of developing other cancers (e.g., mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas) also reduce significantly
  • 15 years: Risk of coronary heart disease is that of a person who has never smoked

Think Whole Person Healthcare’s Krystle Eckhart will be back with three more articles covering the five stages of smoking cessation. Share these articles with your loved ones to spread awareness for Lung Cancer Awareness and the stages of smoking cessation!