Smoking Cessation: The Role of the Anesthesiologist

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Abstract

Smoking increases the risk of postoperative morbidity and mortality. Smoking cessation before surgery reduces the risk of complications. The perioperative period may be a “teachable moment” for smoking cessation and provides smokers an opportunity to engage in long-term smoking cessation. Anesthesiologists as the perioperative physicians are well-positioned to take the lead in this area and improve not only short-term surgical outcomes but also long-term health outcomes and costs. Preoperative interventions for tobacco use are effective to reduce postoperative complications and increase the likelihood of long-term abstinence. If intensive interventions (counseling, pharmacotherapy, and follow-up) are impractical, brief interventions should be implemented in preoperative clinics as a routine practice. The “Ask, Advise, Connect” is a practical strategy to be incorporated in the surgical setting. All anesthesiologists should ask their patients about smoking and strongly advise smokers to quit at every visit. Directly connecting patients to existing counseling resources, such as telephone quitlines, family physicians, or pharmacists using fax or electronic referrals, greatly increases the reach and the impact of the intervention.

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