What Does It Mean to be a Year Tobacco-Free?

Blog Post created by dr_hurt on Aug 7, 2009
One thing it means after a year of not smoking is that you are much healthier than you would have been if you had continued to smoke through the past year. For a year now your red blood cells have carried oxygen to your vital organs rather than carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke, cilia which sweep your respiratory system clean are functioning again, and your risk of hear attack has dropped by 50%.

Your brain has healed too. Nicotine receptors, which had focused your attention on smoking related triggers and subjected you to withdrawal symptoms, have reduced in number. No longer do cigarettes govern your actions. You may occasionally think about having a cigarette, but now the choice is yours.

One thing that being tobacco free doesn't mean is that you can now have that 'celebratory' cigarette. Don't heed the thought, "I can have just one". Unfortunately, one cigarette can re-awaken nicotine receptors and this could bring on intense urges to smoke, which could lead to a full-scale relapse. Check out "Stay An EX" for helpful tips and reminders of how to stay tobacco-free.

If you have not smoked for this past year, give yourself a pat on the back. It may have been hard at first, but it has become easier over time. You and those who love you are better off. Keep up the good work and enjoy the health benefits of being tobacco-free and consider sharing your success in the EX Community.

Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org