The link between smoking status and co-morbid conditions in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS)

Pamela Newland, R.N., Ph.D., C.M.S.R.N., Louise Flick, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., M.P.E., Amber Salter, Ph.D., David Dixon, Ph.D., Mark P. Jensen, Ph.D.

Disability and Health JournalVol. 10Issue 4p587–591



In individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) comorbidities and quality of life (QOL) may be affected by tobacco use.


To evaluate the associations between smoking status, in particular quit attempts, and comorbidities among individuals with MS.


We used a web-based survey to obtain cross-sectional data from 335 individuals with MS who were members of the Gateway Chapter of the National MS Society email registry. We then examined the associations between smoking variables (current use, frequency, and quit attempts) and comorbidities.


The prevalence of participants who ever smoked was 50%, which is greater than that reported for the general population; 20% were current smokers. Migraine headaches were associated with current use and everyday smoking, and those with recent failed quit attempts had a higher prevalence of depression than those who were current smokers but who did not attempt to quit or had successfully quit in the past year.


Given the associations between smoking and comorbidities in individuals with MS, health care providers should both (1) assess smoking history and quit attempts, and (2) encourage individuals with MS who smoke to become non-smokers and refer for treatment, as indicated. In order to increase the chances that individuals will be successful in becoming non-smokers, clinicians would do well to also assess and treat depression in their patients who smoke and are also depressed.