Turning 30 helped THE MUMMY star Rachel Weisz kick her smoking habit, because she feared it would cause her to age prematurely.

The British actress was a chain smoker who was nagged about her bad habit by her parents, who are both firm anti-smokers, but she found it difficult to stop when she was working on high-stress acting jobs.

It took her 30th birthday, her fears of ageing and the threat of cancer to make her quit.

She took the step to give up for good with a pal, actress Susan Lynch, and both checked into a Spanish yoga retreat to cleanse their bodies and minds.

She says, "I think it helped to quit with a friend. We had a real support system.

"I brought 200 lollipops to the retreat because I was used to having something in my mouth."

The retreat worked at first, but now Weisz has to cope with relapses.

She adds, "Sometimes I'll have one (a cigarette) after dinner."

The actress claims her relationship with movie-maker Darren Aronofsky (corr) and the fact her mother seems to have won her battle with cancer have helped her fight her nicotine habit.

She explains, "I'm more at ease and a lot less self-involved."

And kicking her habit has made her a better jogger: "I can run farther now, without wheezing when I go uphill."

30/10/2003 02:23