We need to talk about smoking and MS

It is universally acknowledged that smoking is bad for your health. It’s a known cause of serious illness and premature death, both of which could be preventable in its absence.

The latest official figures show that in England alone, 15 per cent of all deaths in people aged 35 and over per annum were attributable to smoking. In Scotland, this figure was slightly higher at 21 per cent.

For people with multiple sclerosis (MS) there are even more compelling reasons to quit, given the evidence that demonstrates smoking is an environmental risk factor which contributes to MS onset and disability progression. It is also associated with a reduction in brain volume, can lead to a higher relapse rate, and more cognitive problems.

Smoking is also bad for the health of your pocket, given it is a relatively expensive habit, particularly here in the UK. For example, figures from the Office for National Statistics show that between May 2014 and May 2024, the average price for 20 king-sized filter cigarettes has almost doubled from £8.36 to £15.84. Consistent annual increases in tobacco prices form part of the UK government’s commitment to reduce smoking prevalence among its population, so expect prices to rise at similar rates in the coming years.

If you would like to know more about the connection between smoking and MS, then why not read our dedicated Choices booklet. It includes information about the science which shows how tobacco smoke can impact MS, including its onset and progression. The booklet has also been updated to reflect all of the latest information, including how to access support to quit the habit wherever you reside in the UK.

You can download and view this and all our full range of Choices booklets free of charge on our website. Hard copies can also be ordered, again at no cost to you, by using our online order form.