MS-UK’s smoking survey reveals 92% smoked prior to MS diagnosis

A new survey by MS-UK has revealed 92% of respondents smoked before or at the time of their diagnosis, but since then, 59% have kicked the habit. Smoking is a known environmental risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS) and so the charity approached the MS community to get a picture of how current and former smokers viewed the habit in relation to their condition.

Reasons for stopping smoking included general health concerns, receiving a diagnosis of another serious illness, pressure from family, pregnancy, cost, and simply being fed up with the habit.

Of the 186 respondents, 76 said they are still regular smokers but 56% of these people are planning to quit in the near future. Of those who do smoke, 81% said they smoke cigarettes, with others listing vaping, rolling tobacco and a mixture of cannabis and tobacco as their preferences. The majority of people (28%) smoke between 11-20 cigarettes a day, with 7% of respondents saying they consume more than 21 daily.

Quitting methods included nicotine gum and patches, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and local cessation services, but the most common method was by going ‘cold turkey’. Others quit by switching to vaping and then gradually lowering the nicotine content until they eliminated it.

When those who quit were asked for their pearls of wisdom to help others on the same journey, some people recommended Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Smoking book. One person said, “hypnotherapy may have cost £250 for two hours, but I then recouped over £1,000 in 10 weeks.”

Another explained how much better everything had become since they kicked the habit, “Quitting smoking changed my life, I became fitter and healthier, started walking and going to the gym. Think of the money you save and treat yourself to something nice!”

And another respondent offered practical advice, “The craving for a cigarette will pass but use your hands to do something other than hold a cigarette while you have the urge. Even brushing your teeth helps!”.

Wherever you are in your MS journey, if you smoke, please read our updated Smoking and MS Choices booklet.