Search icon


01st Mar 2024

Need motivation to quit vaping? This is what happens to your body in the first year of stopping

Jody Coffey


From discarded colourful disposable vapes strewn across streets to the sticker-filled bins on every corner, vapes are everywhere

The number of people vaping has increased significantly in Ireland in recent years, with a worrying increase in vaping among children and young people.

According to the 2023 Healthy Ireland Survey, one in 12 adults (8 per cent) use e-cigarettes – a marked increase of six per cent since 2016.

Alarmingly, at least one in 10 children and young people (ages 12 to 17 years) vape, with usage more common in young boys than girls, and among older children and young people.

Credit: Getty

Health risks associated with vaping

Most vapes or e-cigarettes contain nicotine, making them highly addictive and a risk for nicotine dependence.

Nicotine can train the brain to be easily addicted to other substances and drugs, as well as put children and young people in a vulnerable position of developing mood disorders and control issues.

There are also physical side effects linked to using vapes with nicotine, which can cause a combination of any of the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Increase sweating
Credit: Getty

What happens to your body when you quit vaping?

20 minutes later breathing improves and heart rate normalises

In just 20 minutes after vape use, a person’s heart rate will begin to return to normal, blood pressure will drop, and circulation with normalise, according to Nikola Djordjevic, MD, per The Healthy.

Breathing may begin to improve, becoming less laboured, with clearer airflow, according to Caleb Backe, a certified health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics.

A couple of hours laterwithdrawals

Because of nicotine’s addictive nature, withdrawal symptoms are likely hours after vape use has been halted.

Those quitting the habit may experience nicotine cravings, anger, frustration, irritability, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, or increased appetite, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

Quitters may also experience physical side effects, such as headaches, sweating, tremors, insomnia, increased appetite, abdominal cramps, and constipation.

One day laterthe chance of heart attack reduces

Former vapers have a decrease chance of a heart attack after making it through the first day without using an e-cigarette.

Smoking a vape can double the risk of heart attacks and in just one day, this chance begins to fall due to the lowering of blood pressure, rising of blood oxygen levels, the reduction of negative influence on cholesterol levels, and reduced forming of blood clots, Dr. Djordjevic says.

Three days laternicotine free and senses improve

After three days, a ex-vaper will begin to see an improvement in their senses.

Similar to tobacco cigarettes, vapes can dull the senses, and after two or three days, the ability to smell and taste may be enhanced.

After three days, nicotine will be out of the system, bringing with it the strongest withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, cramps, and extreme cravings.

Being mentally prepared for these can prevent a relapse.

Credit: Getty

One to three months laterlung health and blood circulation improves

In the first month free of nicotine, a person’s lungs will show signs of improvement.

Any previous smokers’ coughs, shortness of breath, and/or wheezing are likely to cease, with added improvements in lung capacity.

By three months, blood circulation will also be better, with blood vessels returning to their normal diameter.

According to 2016 research published in the journal Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine, nicotine in cigarettes constricts the blood vessels in the skin and around the heart.

Credit: Getty

Nine months later the lung’s ability to fight infection returns

As the lungs see the renewal of microscopic hair-like structures, they begin to regain the ability to push out mucus and fight infections, according to the American Cancer Society.

This can help reduce infections like the flu and pneumonia, promoting overall health.

One year laterthe risk of heart attack is halved

In just one year, cardiovascular risks will be cut to 50 per cent in former vapers and smokers.

Credit: Getty

10 – 20 years later – lower chance of cancer and cardiovascular health

By the ten-year mark, cancer and stroke risk will have significantly lowered.

By 15 years, coronary heart disease is close to that of a non-smoker.

If a person continues to remain nicotine-free for 20 years, their body will be as if they never smoked.

For more information or support to stop smoking or vaping, the HSE offers freetext and freephone helplines.

  • Text QUIT to 50100
  • Freephone 1800 201 203