EastEnders icon Laila Morse was left worried for her future following a life-threatening diagnosis earlier in the year. The 72-year-old, who plays Big Mo in the BBC soap, had been smoking for over 50 years, but after hearing that her high cholesterol would lead to a heart attack of a stroke, she realised she had to either "quit or die." Talking exclusively to HELLO!, the star revealed that her diagnosis was the wake-up call she needed: "I threw my cigarettes away after leaving the surgery," she said. "I mean, I've been smoking for 50 years, but It frightened me so much I just stopped. I thought to myself, you either quit or die. So I quit."
Laila Morse stopped smoking after a health scare
During her time on EastEnders Laila would smoke up to 20 cigarettes a day while on breaks with the cast. "Most people on EastEnders smoked," she said. Laila had tried giving up 15 times prior to her diagnosis, but her motivation to keep healthy has made her determined to keep away from cigarettes for good.
The actress found that an electronic cigarette, which she went out to buy as soon as she left the doctors, was a great help for the first few weeks. "Then I just stopped," she said. Health benefits for Laila are plentiful. " You can taste all your food. You don't have discolouring on your teeth. You don't have bad breath. You are just healthy," she said.
The EastEnders star now wishes she had stopped smoking years ago
Having now given up, Laila wishes she had given up smoking "years and years and years ago." Admitting that she never even enjoying smoking, she said: "When I think of all the money I wasted, I wish I had done it years and years and years ago. It's just a habit you do because other people are smoking. I never enjoyed it. It was just a matter of having a cigarette in your hand and puffing on it."
A grandmother and great-grandmother, Laila revealed that she was happy to have quit for her family. "Nobody likes a granny who smells of smoke," she said.
Laila Morse is encouraging the thousands of smokers to give quitting a go for Stoptober from 1st October. Stop smoking for 28 days and you are five times more likely to stop for good. Search 'Stoptober' for all the support you need to quit: www.nhs.uk/oneyou/stoptober