Smoking Cessation after One Year

Upon the one year anniversary of having quit smoking, you may look back and think about how you once thought you'd never make it to where you are today. But, you did it. You are enjoying the health, emotional and social benefits of being a non-smoker. You deserve to celebrate your success in a way that's perfect for you.

If you quit smoking one year ago and have gone without a cigarette for all that time, that is quite an achievement. Relapse rates for smokers during their first year of trying to quit range from 60 to 90 percent.

The good news is that the outlook improves after you've made it two years without smoking. More than 80 percent of smokers who have reached the two-year mark achieve long-term success. Since you’re halfway there, it is especially important to make sure you keep up your best efforts to stay smoke-free for the long haul.

Benefits You Experienced This Year

During the past year, you have enjoyed a succession of health benefits starting almost immediately after you ground out that last cigarette. One the very first day of your smoke-free journey, your blood oxygen levels increased and carbon dioxide levels decreased to normal.

Early on, you or your doctor may have taken note that your blood pressure improved, your pulse became more regulated and the temperature of your hands and feet returned to normal.

Within the first few months of not smoking, your risk of having a heart attack started to drop, and your lungs were functioning much more normally. Do you recall the day you realized you were walking easier due to improved circulation? Or you said goodbye to that chronic smoker's cough that had been with you for so long?

It was a milestone when the cilia in your lungs regrew, increasing your lungs' ability to handle mucus and reduce infections. The sinus congestion you had from smoking has now disappeared along with your shortness of breath.

By your one-year anniversary, your excess risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half of that of a smoker. If you continue as a non-smoker, you will experience even more benefits and decreased risks of certain health conditions.

Though minor-sounding in comparison, your senses of smell and taste have returned, allowing you to fully enjoy the food at your favorite Italian restaurant, or the perfume of the roses in your garden.

The road to this place was not easy. It's likely that you, as well as those around you, were glad when you finally made it all the way through the withdrawal process and all the feelings and issues that can come with it (anger, anxiety, insomnia, concentration difficulties, impatience) became things of the past. You may have thought that phase would last forever, but of course it didn't.

In short—you won.

Healthy Ways to Celebrate

These benefits, of course, are their own reward for staying smoke-free. But rewards that you make an effort to give yourself help reinforce a job well done.

If you have been saving money that you would have normally spent on cigarettes, you should have quite a stash by now. Still, meaningful rewards needn't cost a lot.

Here are some ideas:

  • Now that you've found energy you thought you lost, how about that new tennis racket you've been hoping for? New exercise equipment can help improve your fitness and keep the pounds that sometimes pile on after stopping smoking at bay. Memberships to the gym or enrolling in a fitness class are also good choices.
  • Consider taking a trip to a place you've always wanted to go, but never made the time for it. Even allowing yourself a day when you put aside chores in favor of relaxing and having fun at a local park or beach can be rejuvenating.
  • Perhaps you may want to plan a celebratory meal with your family members who supported you so well during your journey of becoming a non-smoker.
  • Buy yourself something that commemorates your one-year anniversary so that when you look at it, you're reminded of all you've achieved. It could be a piece of jewelry or even something as simple as a keychain.
  • Perhaps you want to spend the day just observing and writing down in your journal the things about your life that are better about being a non-smoker. Even the seemingly small things, like smelling better, can add up to an overwhelming collection of things to cherish.

Most of all, regardless of how you choose to observe the date, treat yourself well and pat yourself on the back. No longer being enslaved to this dangerous habit is a great achievement and you should be proud.

Written by:
Betty Holt

Source: American Cancer Society. When Smokers Quit—What Are the Benefits Over Time? Accessed on June 20, 2011.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 15 Jul 2011

Last Modified: 19 Feb 2015