The Effects of Quitting Smoking For a Year

>Many people overlook the huge psychological impact giving up cigarettes can have on a person. Or rather, they tend to believe the exact opposite of the truth. Many people believe quitting leads to long-term negative effects, but new research proves this is incorrect. A recent study published in the December issue of Annals of Behavioral Medicine has effectively proved that the psychological effects are for the better instead of the worse. The study was done on a group of 572 smokers and ran by a team of knowledgeable researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. The study involved real-time measurements labeled as ecological momentary assessments. For one full week after these smokers gave up their cigarettes, and for another week after the one year mark, the researchers studied the withdrawal symptoms smokers were suffering from. The discoveries of this withdrawal research can help to ease smokers vague and unfounded fears of quitting.


Findings On Emotional Instability

Emotional InstabilityMany smokers have unfounded fears keeping them from permanently giving up cigarettes, but the truth is your quality of life will greatly improve as time continues to pass. By the time those who quit smoking had reached the one year mark they saw a decrease in the frequency of stressful events experienced. This supports the belief that quitting helps to decrease daily stress levels. Those who successfully quit experienced a steady decline in cravings while those who continued smoking found that cravings decreased only slightly. There was also a decrease in the restlessness, anger, and irritability quitters had experienced as smokers. Those who continued smoking continued to experience these feelings at a steady or increasing level.

The discoveries on anger and irritability were determined to only be a trend because they just barely fell short of statistical significance. There are numerous reasons, however, besides withdrawal why non-smokers may still be angry after quitting. Some may need to simply learn how to best handle their anger without smoking a cigarette. For these people, reaching out for a smoke was how they best managed their anger for any number of years. Despite strong stereotypes for quitters being angry and irritable, the research has conclusively proved that after one year of being smoke-free the majority of people no longer suffer from these emotional instabilities.


Changes Between Just Quitting & A Year Later

People who quit saw a significant improvement in their withdrawal symptoms a year later in comparison to the first week of quitting. The study was able to confirm the fact that withdrawal is only temporary, lasting an amount of time roughly equivalent to that of a bad cold. This means that, contrary to popular belief, smokers are not trading smoking for a lifetime of nicotine withdrawal syndrome. They are simply experiencing short term discomfort in the process of creating a better life for themselves.

Withdrawal usually sets in a few hours after your last cigarette. It will last anywhere between three and four weeks, with symptoms tending to peak between days one to four. This peak is generally due to the fact that all of the nicotine is out of your body. Although the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are wide-ranging, the psychological symptoms commonly associated with this discomfort include:


  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling jittery
  • lack of patience
  • feelings of anger
  • anxiety
  • hunger
  • restlessness
  • cravings


The Healing Process

Your body will naturally heal itself throughout the course of your first year as a non-smoker. If you are able to remain smoke-free you will experience numerous lasting health benefits. Just a few of these health benefits include a higher stamina, stronger immune system, increased life expectancy, lower chance of heart disease, and an easier time breathing. In addition to this, you may also notice an improvement in your eyes, hair, nails, and skin. Most noticeably your sense of taste and smell will also gradually improve. There are many more benefits, but those are just a few to give you an idea of what the healing process entails.


The Conclusion

The conclusion of these findings is that life truly does get better once a person successfully quits cigarettes. Their life is greatly improved in numerous ways. Amongst these ways are a vast number of psychological differences that, combined together, have the ability to drastically improve a persons quality of life. Try to remember what can be expected after being smoke free for just a single year when tempted to pick up a cigarette. The withdrawal symptoms are only temporary, but the generous health benefits- both physical and emotional- greatly outweigh that temporary discomfort.


  1. It is obvious this was written by someone who has never smoked. Some people have cravings for the rest of their lives. Some people have hunger issues years after quitting. Some people don’t regain any lung capacity or notice any improvement to their stamina.

    Why do I say these things? Because I have them all 13mths after quitting, and have 2 friends that have not smoked for 10 or more years, one of who has no change in his lung capacity. The other that still has cravings 12yrs on.

    I just wish that at least some of the medical profession writing about quitting would tell the truth.

    • I agree, I’ve been off cigarettes a little over a year. I still want one every day!!! I have nightmares that I give in, buy a pack and just start smoking away. I’d say that’s a little tougher than “a bad cold.” It’s nice though how someone can read a couple articles/statistics (?) and gain enough knowledge to write an article like that will accurately describe what it’s like to stop smoking… Next you’ll be telling heroine users that quitting is equivalent to a really bad flu.

  2. This is true. I Reached my one year anniversary yesterday. The first couple weeks were the hardest. It progressively got better and the health benefits are definitely noticeable. I realize how much of a beating that smoking gave am happy that I accomplished this. I loved smoking but I love living more and more importantly living healthier while feeling better. Quit smoking… Everyone’s doing it!

  3. October 13th will be 1 year for me. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I still have cravings, but I won’t give in.

  4. This is so very true, I quit smoking last New Years Eve so I’m coming up for 1 year. I honestly believed I wasn’t capable and that Life wouldn’t be the same without Ciggarettes. Well I am CAPABLE and life honestly couldn’t be better

  5. I smoked one pack of cigarettes per day from the age of 11 years old to 53 years old. I was forced to quit smoking 15 months ago due to a disease called Gilian Barre syndrome. I was intubated and through this process my lungs were cleaned by a surgeon. Now 15 months later my life has changed forever. I will never smoke again thank God. I’m not sure I could’ve quit on my own. But the fact is is that I do not smoke now and the benefits are far too numerous to tell. Not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars that I spent on cigarettes in my lifetime is a thing of the past. Barring any untimely death scenario I will live longer as a result of being a non-smoker I am sure of this. Find a way to quit smoking folks. Your life will change forever. Thank God I do not smoke.

  6. I quit smoking roughly one year ago and felt that i would be feeling much better than i felt when i smoked.
    I do like the fact that I no longer have the scent of cigarettes coming out of my pours. But I’ve recently experienced shortness of breath and abdominal pain and find myself feeling anxious.
    These are all the same feelings I experience in the first two months of my withdrawal. This feeling has me some what concerned, should I be concerned??

    • I experienced intense anxiety and developed panic attacks after I quit but that did not stop me. I pushed through and I am now going on 3 years and I’m feeling much better. I’m also not getting colds and allergies as often 🙂 long term benefits much greater than the withdrawals. Good luck!

    • No. February will be a year for me. Still have anxiety. Physical symptoms of withdrawal are gone but stress triggers anxiety and have no cig to control the anxiety. Everytime I successfully don’t give in when anxious I get stronger and the time between anxious thoughts and stressful events gets longer in between. I’m sure stressful things are happening but we are learning to cope on our own and not looking for something to do when stressed. Stress needs to be dealt with head on without any type of coping mechanism. Then the stress will slowly fade. I will give credit to God because my faith is the only way I was able to accomplish this. With God all things are possible.

    • My 1 year anniversary of not smoking will be January 25, 2017. I experienced some of the same (not the abdominal pain). I was having anxiety pretty bad and I went to see my doctor about it. He told me that it was fairly common to have anxiety attacks after someone quits smoking. He says I may have had anxiety issues all along but used the cigarettes to get by. That would probably explain why when I would get frustrated I would say, “I NEED A CIGARETTE”! Anyway, he put me on a low dose of Lexapro and it helps a lot! As for the shortness of breath, I do still have that a little bit but I also think that the majority of that was anxiety driven. I would think, “holy crap, I am having trouble breathing. What if I didn’t stop smoking early enough”? This would just cause more anxiety and shortness of breath. I’ve had a little weight gain too and decided to start working out. Well, it turns out that I need an inhaler just before I work out and it helps. I believe this is only temporary and I really only use it once or twice a week and not even every time I work out anymore. So… I think it just takes a little time to heal and you may have to get a little help for a bit. I don’t think it’s bad to use the Lexapro for anxiety and the inhaler a few times a month for a little while. I don’t think I will be on either one for too long and it is much better than smoking. I do feel a whole lot healthier.

    • The changes I’ve seen are higher blood pressure . 20 lb. weight gain . Am now pre-diabetic . Still have high cholesterol . Quit a pack a day 2 years ago. Am glad I quit but . . .

      • Those symptoms are not from quitting smoking. Your diet is bad. Stop all fizzy drinks, fruit juices, processed foods, bread & SUGAR. Use olive oil & eat lots of vegetables.

    • I asked my doctor the same exact thing. He checked me out. Said lungs sound great. But the lungs are going to need time to heal from all the damage from 28 years of smoking. Shortness of breath will happen less and less as time goes on. Anxiety I had before quitting. But I had to increase my meds after quitting.

  7. I gave up 1 year ago and I can feel the benefits. I breath better fight of infections better no need for antibiotics as much. I walk faster and further. My friends say I look well and skin is nice. I’m 56 I had a small heart attack a year ago .I was very lucky no damage. My heart was slowing down (heart failure). I turned my life around and now I have improved and so glad I stopped smoking.

  8. I quit smoking for one year, but I started againl I have been smoking about every 4 hours for two weeks. I must quit since I am recovering from breasst cancer. need suggestions.

  9. Nope its anxiety . Im like what the crap why the shortness of breath I truly realize I was doing it to myself . I would for your sanity go get it check out. However in the mean time sit down calm down breath relax . Learn some techiques quicking smoking comes with the anexities unfortunately . Everything thrown off the way you breath in and out. I start the ballon excerise I dont care how rediculous I look I did this damage and I have to have better quality of life. Good luck .

  10. Its a year now that i have not smoke even just 1 cigarette and i feel great. Not only that i also had reduced my coffee intake considerably. I decided to go on cold turkey and no substitute whatsoever. Though i still have some stomach problem i am okey. I am now 64 and celebrating my bday today. I dont think ill taste another cigarette.

  11. Today marks my one year of being smoke-free and I am still experiencing a severe headache. I’m worrying, is this still a symptoms just like what I’ve experienced in my first few months after stop smoking? Is it possible?

    • I personally doubt that your headaches are coming from quitting smoking. Could be anxiety, stress, tight shoulders/neck or bad posture.

  12. I also had an experience as my first withdrawal back 11 Month ago after I quit smoking. What I go through now was Lightheaded, Pinching headache on my right, Fatique, Jittery hand, pain on my left knee, back pain, sore chest and skipping the heartbeat. I had visited many doctors and They don’t concern at all. I also had this swollen lymph node on my right side of my neck. doctors say it’s fine…this really making me frustrated. I had been smoking-free for 11 months now almost came to a year. I should be healthy as a horse but why I experienced all this now? :((

  13. The findings from this study perfectly describe my experiences with withdrawal and recovery. The first two weeks really were like a bad cold! I laid in bed for hours on end, I felt too weak to exercise, and I was incredibly unpleasant to be around. However, I am coming up on my one year mark and I have to say that although the external stressors in my life are probably about the same- I am much more relaxed on average, I have only had two colds in the past year (I am a teacher so it’s hard to avoid), and I can take the stairs without feeling embarrassed if I run into someone I know at the top. I have coupled my year of quitting with increased cardio exercise and a healthier diet.
    It really feels good to come this far. Websites like this have really helped me along the way.

  14. Raymond, those feelings are not from your successful escape from a terrible curse, known as smoking. How old are you? How is your overall health? What were you doing while experiencing those problems? Quitting smoking will not instantly turn you into superman, but rather let go the shackles holding you back. You must put in the diet and exercise to feel your best. You did a great thing, but it’s only the first step. And no, those issues aren’t side-effects from quitting. Keep up the good work and get ACTIVE!

  15. It’s been 2 years and 21 days since my last cigarette. I feel amazing. I can breathe better, I don’t smell, my teeth are whiter….I had a major acute stroke which made me quit due to the dangers. I still get a craving now and then, but I can deal with that!

  16. I quit while I was on vacation in Europe for one month. In my case, the stress caused by my work was a huge factor for starting to smoke in the first place. When I returned back home, that’s when the real test began. Fortunately I did not give in and it will be one year September 8th since I had my last cigarette, Stop smoking if you still are, and while it’s still time! you will not believe how good your body & soul will feel!! Good luck to everyone who trying to quit, keep focused and do not let yourself be distracted from your main objective, you will not regret it!!

  17. I am 1 year in and as I do not want to smoke I don’t. Cravings are just a small irritation trying to tell me to do something I don’t want to do. I must say that the Alan Carr book helped me but nothing helped as much as my patient supportive and above all non critical husband. After 40 years a smoker I feel free and so much happier and healthier. I no longer have a beast to feed …

  18. August 2nd was a year without smoking for me. It was hard, did it cold turkey. My biggest issue were anxiety and panic attacks!! Also time management. I lived my life around ” when am I going to have my next cigarette ” still learning how to structure my day.
    What I have learned about me is that smoking was my coping mechanism , that I must have had anxiety to start with and used smoking to get through a day.
    I have used acupuncture and naturopathic medicine to help me with irritation, anxiety and panic attacks.
    I have gained 20 pounds and finally the scale stoped moving I am ready to loose those 20 pounds!
    About 8 months into guitting I was able to start recognizing the benefits, it felt like I was getting out of a fog!
    I know that articles out there say, quit smoking- start exercising and eat healthy all in the same time. Well that was the plan but I am happy I was able to keep my shit together! With 2 kids and work and trying to stay away from meds for anxiety and panic attacks it has been a hard year!!
    Happy to say I made it, I am really finally feeling good, it’s been worth the struggle.

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