Photo: Tamar who has MS and her daughter

I had no idea smoking could make my MS worse

Tamar is a management accountant from Blackpool. She was diagnosed with relapsing MS four years ago. This is her story.

My diagnosis story

From the start of the investigation it was only 4 months before I had an official diagnosis, but they think I’d had it for ten years by then.

I’ve been smoking about 20 cigarettes a day since I was 16, but had no idea it could be making my condition worse

It should have been investigated before, but I’d changed doctors. And although there was a neuro report saying I needed an MRI it was never followed up. Must have got lost along the way.

All my friends smoked

I took up smoking when I was sixteen because all my friends smoked, plus lots more people smoked back then anyway. I work full time and smoke around twenty a day.

Giving up is hard to do

I did give up once when I was pregnant, but I went back to it three weeks after my daughter was born. That was eight years ago!

Recently I tried using a hypnosis app on my phone and it worked for a few months. But I slipped back when I was on holiday. My husband smokes which makes it harder to resist.

I’m considering a quit attempt… with help!

Obviously everyone knows cigarettes are bad for you, but I think very few people realise it might affect MS symptoms, or make MS progress faster.

It’s frightening but, if quitting could keep me out a wheelchair longer, I’m thinking very differently now and definitely considering giving up with some support from the NHS and Stoptober.

Your routes to quit

If you want to make a quit attempt this October you won’t be alone. There’s support wherever you live in the UK.

If you live in England - sign up for Stoptober

If you live in Scotland - find help on the NHS 

If you live in Wales - find help on the Help Me Quit website

If you live in Northern Ireland - find help on the Want 2 Stop website

If you're worried about this information or have questions about smoking and MS, please call our free MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000 or email