Willie Nelson, who has become known for his love of smoking marijuana over the years, has stopped indulging in the drug.

The music icon smoked his first joint back in 1954, however, in a new interview with KSAT TV, he revealed that he's axed his habit for the sake of his health.

"I have abused my lungs quite a bit in the past, so breathing is a little more difficult these days and I have to be careful," the 86-year-old explained. "I started smoking cedar bark, went from that to cigarettes to whatever. And that almost killed me.

"I don't smoke anymore - (I) take better care of myself."

His decision comes after he previously told Rolling Stone magazine that he believes his years of smoking marijuana actually saved his life.

"It saved my life, really," the Whiskey River singer told the publication. "I wouldn't have lived 85 years if I'd have kept drinking and smoking like I was when I was 30, 40 years old. I think that weed kept me from wanting to kill people. It probably kept a lot of people from wanting to kill me, too - out there drunk, running around."

Willie has been a long-time campaigner for the legalisation of marijuana, and has even backed "premium cannabis lifestyle brand" Willie's Reserve.

But in recent years, he's been struggling with his health, suffering from lung conditions such as pneumonia and emphysema, and had to cancel a string of concert dates this summer.