10 surprising benefits of quitting smoking
Rick Morris celebrates during a workout with the Atlanta Hawks in February.
April 7th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

10 surprising benefits of quitting smoking

Rick Morris is one of seven CNN viewers participating in the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. He quit smoking on an episode of "Sanjay Gupta, M.D." and has been smoke-free since.

About two months ago, I quit smoking. At the time there were many reasons influencing my decision to finally choose a smoke-free lifestyle. I was worried about my health. I had high blood pressure. My doctor and everyone I knew was encouraging me to kick the habit. My family history is one of lung cancer and diabetes. The list goes on and on.

Now that I've been without tobacco for the past couple months (63 days, to be exact), I've noticed some changes in the way I'm living.

All are positive and are in direct relation to my body's depletion of those nasty chemicals I've called friends for the last 12 years.

So I thought I would list those changes and explain how I have been affected by each. Though my list is restricted to 10, it is by no means an exhaustive one.

1. No more chronic cough: All smokers know what "smoker's cough" is. I didn't realize how annoying this was until I stopped coughing all the time. After about a week being smoke-free, I noticed I didn't have to clear my throat every few minutes.

I recall plenty of times when I was at a function or meeting and needed to cough so badly, but couldn't because I knew it would be rude and interrupting to those around me. It's like an insect hovering in your throat – not touching, just drying everything between your tongue and your stomach – and you can't do a darn thing about it.

2. The smell: I didn't know I smelled so badly until I was around other smokers. Their clothes, home, car, even their pets reek!

About a week after I smoked my last cancer stick, my daughter and her boyfriend, a smoker, dropped by for a visit. Their dog always peels for the door and makes it into the house first. Yeah, I actually smelled the odor of cigarettes coming from the dog.

3. No more cleaning butts: I swear that cigarette butts would multiply when I wasn't looking. I once placed a butt can out back on the patio and initially used it as intended. Pretty soon, I was too lazy to walk down the steps to the can and just started flipping cigarette butts out into the yard, in the area of the butt can (as if I were shooting a jump shot). I rarely scored.

Eventually, they were lying everywhere. So much that I would just wait until the weekends to "clean" them with the leaf blower. Nasty, nasty, nasty!

4. It's just an extra $200 per month: Really, the extra money wasn't even noticed, as I can easily spend that on a night grilling on the patio (I love king crab and filet mignon, and only the finest Belgium beer!) So I really didn't look at this as a true benefit of not smoking.

But, with the price of cigarettes reaching about $6 a pack in my area – and up to $11 in other areas of the nation – I discovered this adds up. And, it was clear the price of tobacco was just going to continue to rise.

So, I got out my calculator. $6 a day multiplied by 365 days in the year. Comes out to $2,190. Looking at this long term, that's about $122,000 over the next 56 years (when I turn 100). Assuming cigarettes continue to increase in price at the present rate, then it's easy to see that number growing to half-million dollars. Invested wisely, I'm sure I can leave someone a big, fat payday!

5. Lost productivity: Sure, we all need a break or two during the work day. But I realized I was taking about 20 of these 5-minute breaks. In all honesty, each was probably about 10 minutes. About two-thirds of my breaks were when I was at work (I have a home-based web development business). So, that's more than 2 hours of breaking as opposed to working.

How in the world was I getting my work done? I have since realized that I wasn't.

6. Food tastes much better: I don't know if it has something to do with a cleaner mouth, but food simply tastes better. I also find that I use less salt.

I've heard on several occasions that if one quits smoking one gains weight, but I would warn people from using the weight-gain excuse as a viable argument when attempting to become smoke-free. Trading one bad habit for another isn't the way to go.

7. Non-smoking or non-smoking?: I think the air-line industry coined the phrase: "Smoking, or non-smoking?" And, I think it was the first group to eliminate cigarette smoking from a certain area (the airplane).

Today, it's almost preposterous to think we once smoked during an international flight on a 747! "Non-smoking or non-smoking?" seems to be the rhetorical, unasked question wherever you go these days. It's understood. There will be no smoking here, or here, or there, or over there, or in there, or... well, you get the point.

Unlike the Golden era of the 1920s and 1930s, when smoking was an upper-class hobby, a smoker's world is an unfriendly one today.Since the airlines quit asking that redundant question, smoking has been eliminated from virtually all public places. Restaurants, high-school football games, town parks, even bars and drinking establishments have become smoke-free.

For smokers, drinking a beer without a cigarette is like playing pool without a beer! Whether smokers realize it or not, the very fact that one uses tobacco limits them in myriad ways – especially socially. I don't have to worry about that anymore.

8. Dry, sticky contact lenses: As a wearer of these miracle discs of ocular health, I know what smoking does to your contact lenses. Smoke makes them dry. They become cloudy and you're constantly rubbing your eyes. Eventually, your lenses get to the point where you must get them out.

Fortunately, I wear disposable contact lenses. All I had to do was pop in a new set. But, at a couple dollars per lens, this was costing me. How to solve this annoying problem? Quit smoking!

9. Physical appearance: In the few months I've not smoked, I can tell my overall physical appearance has improved.

My skin isn't dry and wrinkly. My bit of gray hair is actually going brown. My self-confidence in speaking directly to someone isn't hindered by my desire to turn at an angle because of smoker's breath.

10. Bye, bye yellow teeth: No matter how hard I brushed or swished fluoride, I couldn't seem to keep perfectly white teeth.

"It's because you smoke," my dentist proclaimed. "And, unless you do something about that, your dental health will continue to deteriorate, thus affecting your overall health."

Bad teeth can lead to serious health effects throughout your body. Yesterday I had a cleaning at the dentist, and plan to keep my teeth white and healthy from now on.

You can follow CNN Fit Nation on Facebook and Twitter.

soundoff (2,380 Responses)
  1. frec9albar

    Hi All,
    I've just quit smoking as well. I've also started a blog and have committed to write everyday about how I'm feeling. My hope is that keeping a journal will allow me to look back and remember why I wanted to quit later down the road when I consider smoking. Perhaps my story can help to motivate others as well. Either way I can use all the support I can get.

    April 29, 2012 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • tina

      hi eveybody i wanted to share as well my expericence too. i have been smoke free for 8 days now and well i had a patch on , but two days ago i took it off. i shill have many times a day where i feel like smoking but i a pack to my self. I feel so lost at times and feel like it would be too easy to go and buy some smokes, but I am quiting and I asked and was told that these feelings are normal and well pass and so I am not going to smoke for nothing . so its really hard to stay smoke-free at first and i think you just have to keep saying to youself its your choice to stop smoking and eventhough i dont know the futute i know with each day gets better and easier to say no

      January 8, 2013 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
  2. Ken C

    Good job quitting.. I quit 2 years back and glad I did – an Allen Carr & Positively Quit combo worked for me. PQ's web site has a coaching component that's not bad.. http://www.positivelyquit.org

    May 1, 2012 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Very Nice Article

    This was a joy to read and I learned a few things... Very wonderful article indeed...

    May 16, 2012 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • qst365

      The article indeed is great! However, it would be nice if those benefits would be listed on a timeline to better get a sense of what to expect when ...

      October 20, 2012 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
  4. richard herrera

    It was great to meet you at the farm. I am proud you are doing this life changing experiance. And quiting smoking!!! Our stories are so similar good to know others feel the same way I did. I hope you checked out the realw8 too for me losing 57 lbs and lowering my blood presure changed my life. Good luck on your upcoming race. Come back and see us in hawaii soon..
    You new local friend,

    May 19, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Amanda

    Hi there all, my name is Amanda. My husband has been an ex-smoker now for 2 years. No-he didnt go cold turkey, no he didn't ween himself down, no he didnt suffer the agony of night terrors by downing chantix every day. He simply found an alternative: What is that you might ask? Modified. Electronic. Cigarettes, and they are the rare thing that are good enough to be true and can be all you ever need to keep your habit but ditch the smoke and 500 chemical-aspect of it. We believe in it so much, that we now are a part of the industry and couldnt be more excited for people to make the switch....plus it is SOO much cheaper than ciggies.
    if you are serious about an alternative, http://www.jvmodshop.com has everything you need and the how-to sections will completely educate you more about it, don't wait because this is smoking of the future. 🙂

    June 9, 2012 at 19:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Nate Dilworth

    Very informative post on 10 surprising benefits of quitting smoking and thanks for sharing with others also. W must quit smoking to avail these health benefits and to prevent from major health problems like cancer, heart disease, blood vessel disease, respiratory problems and depression.
    san antonio gym

    June 18, 2012 at 05:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Chris

    Congrats To Rick on his success. I wish him much more of it. This is a great list of benefits you get from quitting and I have fortunately experienced them all. Hope this list inspires many to do the same.

    July 13, 2012 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. mark powlett

    I always talk to my clients about the money and so many dont realise quite how much they will save ! I even did a blog about how you can get an ipad by quitting smoking in just seven weeks with what you save ! its amazing what motivates some people. you can check it out if you like.. http://www.markpowlett.co.uk I hope that its of use to people

    July 15, 2012 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Michael

    good idea to save up to 3,000 per year:

    July 16, 2012 at 05:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. John

    Just quit this past Friday after way too many years of smoking. Fortunately still relatively young and in good shape. Nice to finally get that monkey off my back. I spent 5-6 months gradually cutting back on the amount of cigarettes I was smoking each day until I was down to around 2 per day, then started smoking just a 1/4 or 1/8 of a cigarette at a time. I think 80% of the physical addiction was gone by then, making it easier to deal with the withdrawal symptoms when I stopped completely. Wishing everyone on a similar path the strength to see it through and welcome them to a healthier lifestyle.

    July 16, 2012 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Gillian

    Miracet is a way to stop smoking naturally, with no side effects. Learn more on our blog! http://nuviacare.com/blog/2012/07/how-to-stop-smoking-naturally.html

    July 18, 2012 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Tarana

    Quit smoking the 4/16/12 after reading Allen Carr's The Easy Wsy to Stop Smoking. I am so happy to be free and proud of myself. I feel brand new and alive!

    July 20, 2012 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jaams

    Hi All,

    I quit smoking and feeling better now. Benefits of Quitting Smoke I felt was.
    1. I am able to smell and breath free.
    2. Cough was reduced.
    3. It is very easy for me now to play volley ball.
    4. Confident was increased.
    5. Not hesitating to speak. While smoking I prefer to not speak in office because of cigerette smell.
    6. Started to eat healthy food.
    7. Time was saved. For every hour I will go out from office and will have smoke. 1 hour per day (office hours) was saved.
    8. And last but not least now I am able to save 100 Rs( Indian Rupees) per day. Which is 3000 Rs. per month and 36000 Rs per year.

    July 24, 2012 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. greensmartliving

    I agree with you lots of benefits, after all nothing is important than health. "Health is wealth"

    July 27, 2012 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. endedwithit

    if anyone is trying to quit, he or she may find some usedfull tips here: http://waystoquit.org/

    August 2, 2012 at 05:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. http://quit-smokingweed.com/how-to-quit-smoking-weed/

    i've quit smoking forever, i just need a package of buble gum 🙂

    August 8, 2012 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. gk sharma

    it's very easy to quit.i quit more then 20 time.still trying............

    August 8, 2012 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Patrick

    My wife got me this product and I quit within 2 days of me having it. I been smoke free for about 8 months now and I feel great and I noticed how much better I breath now! Love this

    August 20, 2012 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Paulo Silva

    These "how to quit smoking" findings are incredible! I really believe that these tips and devices can help smoking cessation. I particularly have found a brilliant way to stop smoking definitively. This is called Autogenic Training. It's not my invention. It is an Audio Program. It has lots of research to support the achievements of the method. In this method you will train yourselves to relax while reprogramming your brain in the way to stop smoking. It is kind of self anti smoking hypnosis. These techniques helped me to stop drinking alcohol. I really think that Autogenic Training will help me to quit smoking cigarettes in an enjoyable way. I am not specialized in that subject but I think it works. Test yourself (copy and past the link):
    Sorry for my bad English.

    September 1, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Rich Harris

    You know, it wasn't so bad back in 1969. Look at this old foreign cigarette commercial.


    September 11, 2012 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Samuel Adams

    About a little over a week ago, I realized that I have been smoking for more than ten years, so I smoked all the cigarettes I had (2 packs) and quit smoke at on my ten and a half year anniversary of starting smoking, still dealing with the cravings but feeling better everyday, and yes, my sense of smell has increased largely, smokers actually bother me now, and that must sound horrible, but its the quite truth.

    September 23, 2012 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mr.Davis

      Good day to you i'm davis i want to shearthis with you that is reading my post now, I have been a smooker for 15years now and my girlfriend also left me becouse of this same issue,when i got to my office on monday 7th of decmenber i read an announce in the internet "WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM" conatact me now on Greatgumbalaspelltemple@gmail.com and be free i quckly called and trold him about my problem, he made me belive that i was in the right place i did not trust him untill i did what i he ask me to do after which my life has not been the same i just want to thank Dr gumbala for what he did in my life for the past 2weeks now i have not smooke an also my girlfriend is back to me. what is this problem that has been eating you up for a very long time i want to assure you that the end to that problem has come only if you contact greatgumbalaspelltemple@gmail.com and tell him your problem.


      January 19, 2013 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
  22. Lorenzo D.

    Hello everyone! names Lorenzo and I'm 23 years. I've smoked ciggs for about 8 years now, a pack a day, drunk nights out, a pack in hours. I've quit and its been 16 days. I know its not long, but everyone starts somewhere. I use to starve to buy ciggs, it controlled my life. one every hour, after every meal or snack, or while I'm driving or before i go in somewhere. or after i leave somewhere. It just seemed like i was a chain smoker. I feel like i have broke the habit. Since then, I noticed food does taste better, my mouth is less dry when i wake up, the bad side is my voice is changed, i talk through my throat rather than my stomach or lungs, will that eventually change? I know i damaged myself already, but seriously, if i can quit, anyone else can. Just please have someone throw out your pack and eat what they just did. Be strong, Don't be a statistic!

    September 24, 2012 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Ramesh Murarka

    Before quitting I have been smoking for 20 years now after 5 weeks of quitting it is like a best gift to me in my life

    September 30, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rob ven den berg

      great hearing about all the success stories.gave up 3 days ago .i was using champix which definately helped.
      have been smoking for 30 years ,20 a day,and am in the tight frame of mind to give up permanently

      October 9, 2012 at 04:13 | Report abuse |
  24. google help

    check this its the bes http://the-quit-smoking-that-works.weebly.com

    October 16, 2012 at 00:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Katryn Angela

    Reblogged this on expelliarmus.

    October 20, 2012 at 03:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. discoun cigarettes

    Yes This is right 2 year before when i use to smoke my heart beat became so fast like band of music inside the heart but, after the quiting it now i have great zeal and good health. Being senior citizen and elder it is advice don't go to smoke it destroy slowly.

    October 23, 2012 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 23, 2012 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. quit smoking

    Your post is really very inspiring for the smokers to quit smoking.These benefits can change the views of the smokers and convince them to quit right away.

    October 25, 2012 at 03:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. jasonscoltock

    Stoptober is a new department of health backed initiative to encourage people to quit smoking for the month of October. Stoptober will have a face book page and an app it will offer motivational help via text message and email to encourage smokers to quit for 28 days during October.

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    October 29, 2012 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Brandon Charles

    Hey so I don't know if any of you guys have ever tried to use apps to quit smoking, but I found one that works great for me. A doctor I know actually just created it and I haven't smoked in over a week. I feel like my mind is completely reprogrammed. It's called "Stop Smoking Naturally" you can find it by searching "Turnt Apps" in the app store. I felt like I had to pay it forward by spreading the word because it worked so well for me! Good luck everyone!

    November 2, 2012 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
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  32. MnM

    Thank you for sharing. I've been clean for 5 1 / 2 days. Its been rough, but I'm not going to go through this again. Good-bye toxic friend...You will never be welcomed again in my life or my family's. Please let tomorrow be easier than today. Strength and focus.

    November 13, 2012 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. kamrulhassan149

    Quitting cigarette smoking can be fun once you understand the real story behind this habit. This habit of cigarette smoking turns people' emotional state in a lower vibrational state. In other words it brings you in a lower vibrational state. And on contrary when you are at a higher vibrational state you do not need to smoke. Because your natural (body's natural substances will do the job of bringing and keeping you at a higher mind set). Now the main thing is that how you keep yourself at a high vibrational state. Well, you have to learn and understand yourself. You need to gather knowledge regarding that matter. And once you start to gain that knowledge you start to keep yourself at a higher vib state and gradually you do not need to smoke.


    December 1, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
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    December 5, 2012 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. gn0sisarts

    Yes, all these reasons and more are things that Nasty Nick does to us. How can one feel good about oneself in the midst of all these negatives? I mean, really? As an ex-smoker, it is good to be reminded with lists like this. For anyone who's trying to quit smoking now, please feel free to join our quit smoking grouptext support group. http://facebook.com/QSGTH

    December 11, 2012 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Bill

    I didnt realize that there are that many benefits of quitting smoking
    I would like to consider quitting for the year 2013 as a great new start

    December 21, 2012 at 06:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. giveupcigarettes

    I think the most difficult part is to avoid smoking again once you started actually quitting
    It is always so tempting to pick up a cigarette and light it
    Do you have more practical tips on maintaining the smoke free state

    December 21, 2012 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. James

    I am also quitting cigarette since last 6 month but in a different way.
    One of my friend suggest me herbal smoking product which is just unbelievable because it found to be completely legal and safe and moreover it gives you the fine quality smoking and sweet intense flavors. And today I completely forgotten to smoke cigarette.

    James Anderson

    December 28, 2012 at 07:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. James

    I am also quitting cigarette since last 6 month but in a different way.
    One of my friend suggest me herbal smoking product which is just unbelievable because it found to be completely legal and safe and moreover it gives you the fine quality smoking and sweet intense flavors. And today I completely forgotten to smoke cigarette.

    James Anderson

    December 28, 2012 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
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  42. Ramesh

    Great article, and extremely encouraging and motivating comments. I too am trying to quit smoking.

    Been smoking 10-15 a day for the last 6 years. Today is my 11th smoke free day :). Feels like an achievement already and I'm determined to go on. Let's see how it pans out. Just want to know from the guys who have already managed to quit, how long before I stop feeling the need to smoke at all? Right now I get 3-4 bouts of sudden urges every day and I'm just somehow managing to pull through, but I don't know for how long can I go if its gonna be like this for months to come !

    January 2, 2013 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Lynda


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    January 14, 2013 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. PigbitinMad

    I quit smoking and am glad of it since it saves me about $3000 a year and I don't have to listen to people tell me that I am killing their baby because a molecule of smoke got on their winter coat. However, one thing I do resent (and always have resented) is the notion that smokers spend half the day outside taking "breaks" (I would never have been allowed to do that and probably had no more than two or three over the course of a whole day). The other thing is that we were somehow always calling in sick. In my case, my smoke free co-workers were out at least 5 days a month. I had not taken a sick day in the entire four years I had been at that job. The most I ever got was a cold and I never let it keep me home. (Granted, the colds are less severe now that I quit.) Smoking is bad for your health, but so is drinking a gallon of soda and eating a quart of ice cream for lunch every day (actually had a co-worker do that). He was a lot more sick than I ever was.

    Just sayin.

    January 18, 2013 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Annie Slattery

    As a person who gave up smoking many years ago, would say the first 3 weeks were hell but then it got much easier once the nicotine was leaving my system.

    January 28, 2013 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
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  48. Imad

    This article and all the comments above are really encouraging for those who want to stop smoking or trying to skip this habit. It is my 5th day and I am feeling very anxious but really trying hard to move towards a better life style.

    January 31, 2013 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Vince

    Point 4 on the amount of money saved, really can think of how much good those money can be put into building a better life. 🙂


    February 2, 2013 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. breggan

    pieces of good advice, as I advise to look no-smoking.info

    February 3, 2013 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
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