Many people don't realize that the advantages of putting out that last cigarette can be felt right away.
Quitting smoking isn't easy, but the American Cancer Society reports smokers who kick the habit won't have to wait long to feel the health benefits.
According to Dr. Otis Brawley, "within 20 minutes of one's stopping smoking, one's heart rate and blood pressure actually go down. Twelve hours after one stops smoking, the carbon monoxide levels in one's blood decrease. About two weeks after one stops smoking, one's lung function actually improves, so one is going to be less short of breath and have more exercise tolerance."
Dr. Brawley also said a smoker may experience some negative effects of nicotine withdrawal.
"You can have shaking. You can have nervousness -- even have some depression, increased appetite," explained Dr. Brawley.
But he also urges people to hang in there because the benefits of not smoking will continue.
"One to nine months after one stops smoking, the cough goes away. About a year after one stops smoking, one's risk of heart disease goes down. About five years after one stops smoking, one's risk of stroke decreases," said Dr. Brawley.
According to the doctor, 10 years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a current smoker.