Keith Richards won’t give up smoking.

The legendarily hedonistic Rolling Stones guitarist reportedly stopped drinking a few months ago over health concerns, but is refusing to listen to medical risks and quit his favourite cigarettes.

A friend said: “Keith simply can’t start the day without a cigarette. Smoking is now Keith’s one and only vice and he isn’t stopping.”

Keith, 66, was initially warned by doctors that his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle was taking its toll on his health after he fell out of a palm tree in Fiji four years ago, suffering a brain haemorrhage.

He is also said to have been upset recently by the alcohol-ravaged state of the band’s other guitarist, Ronnie Wood, who was reportedly admitted to rehab for the eighth time over the weekend.

The source added: “He’s done very well on the drinking front but he’s been a heavy smoker since his teens and that’s one pleasure he’s not prepared to give up.”

Keith’s refusal to stop smoking, even at indoor venues; flouting smoking bans in many countries, has often incurred the wrath of local authorities, and landed the band in trouble. Keith claims it is an integral part of his onstage persona and he should therefore be allowed to defy strict legislation.

Venting his anger at smoking bans he has said: “It’s a bit of a drag because you’ve got to freeze your b***s off to light a cigarette. You’ve got to go outside. It’s draconian, social, politically correct bulls**t.

“They’ll get over it. It’s like prohibition, they tried to stop booze once. Ha! Look what happened. It ruined America.”