“I’d end up giving in and having a cigarette”

quitting smoking with multiple sclerosis Briony Bruce

Briony Bruce explains how she kicked her 40-a-day habit for good

I smoked for 28 years and if I’m honest, it was the cost of cigarettes that was the main reason, though I wanted to quit for my health too.

I hadn’t yet been diagnosed when I gave up, but I had a fair idea that I had multiple sclerosis (MS). Once I was diagnosed, my consultant raised the issue of smoking with me, but there was no need to discuss it further as I’d quit.

Stopping smoking isn’t always an overnight thing. I’d wanted to quit over the years but there was too much influence around me – I’d end up giving in and having a cigarette and soon be back to my routine of buying 40 a day.

I bought a vape initially and got rid of all my cigarettes. I vaped with nicotine at first, and cut it down gradually to nicotine-free, and then stopped completely. It took me about two months.

I just felt so much better in general and when I was diagnosed I was so glad I had given up prior to my diagnosis.

My advice

If you’re a smoker, definitely try and give up smoking. I wish I had done it a whole lot sooner. Your taste and smell change for the better. You don’t smell of smoke and your house is smoke-free. My cough and grogginess in the morning have gone.

I think if I were still smoking and dealing with MS things would be a lot harder, and I would be a lot more breathless. Plus, I will have saved £25,000 over five years!

I have never looked back from giving up smoking, and never wanted another cigarette. My mind set is totally focused on being smoke free.

Smoking and MS

  • Smoking tobacco products has long been a suspected environmental trigger for MS.
  • Late last year, a study found that in people with MS who had quit smoking, disease progression was slowed to a similar rate as seen in people who had never smoked.
  • A 2018 study also found that smoking increases the relapse rate in MS patients being treated with Tysabri (natalizumab) – so it makes sense to quit.
  • Evidence suggests smokers are three times more likely to quit successfully if they use NHS support. Your first stop should be your GP, who can prescribe things to help, as well as direct you to local stop smoking clinics.
smoking and multiple sclerosis choices booklet

To find out more information about smoking and MS, you can read our Smoking and MS Choices booklet. For any MS questions, call the Helpline on 0800 783 0518, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.