Marijuana advocate Willie Nelson quits smoking, claims habit 'almost killed' him

American country music icon and cannabis activist Willie Nelson has announced he will no longer smoke due to ongoing breathing issues.

Nelson, who has been a long-term advocate for the legalisation of marijuana, even released his own line of cannabis products in 2015.

"I have abused my lungs quite a bit in the past so breathing is a little more difficult these days... I have to be careful," the 86-year-old told CNN affiliate KSAT.

"I started smoking cedar bark, went from that to cigarettes to whatever... and that almost killed me."

The 'On the Road Again' hitmaker was forced to postpone the end of his tour in August due to breathing issues. Now, Nelson says he is working to prioritise his well-being after years of ongoing health problems.

"I don't smoke anymore. [I'm taking] better care of myself," he told the outlet.

"I'm here, I'm glad to be here. I'm lucky to be here."

The 86-year-old plans to continue touring, saying the tour bus is his "home".

"[The fans] give me a lot of positive energy and I hope to give them a lot of positive energy."

Nelson's spokeswoman, Elaine Schock, told the Associated Press that Nelson hasn't given up cannabis completely - noting there are different ways of consuming it.

"That said, Willie does what he wants, when he wants, when it comes to smoking," Schock told AP

The musician appeared to struggle for breath while performing alongside Grammy Award winner Kacey Musgraves during the CMA Awards in November. He has previously axed shows in 2018 and 2017 due to breathing difficulties and respiratory issues.

Contact Newshub with your story tips: