4 Very Good Reasons to Quit Smoking When You Have MS

By Kerry Weiss
Reviewed by Dana Cooper, M.D.
May 15, 2023

When you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), making healthy lifestyle choices plays an important role in your overall disease management strategy. That includes things like eating a healthy diet, staying active, and quitting smoking.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 52% of people living with MS have smoked at some point in their lives, and about 11% of people with MS are current smokers.

And although quitting is beneficial for pretty much anyone who smokes, it’s especially important for people with MS. “[Smoking] is just very pro-inflammatory—your immune system is living at a heightened state, because your immune system is what’s clearing out your lungs from all that gunk,” says James W. Stark, M.D., a neurologist at the International Multiple Sclerosis Management Practice, in New York City. “And in MS, we don't want our patients to be at a heightened immune state; we actually want them at a somewhat lower immune state.”