There are three simple steps to helping patients quit for surgery:
1. ASK YOUR PATIENTS ABOUT THEIR SMOKING.
Even if you know whether your patient smokes, it is important to ask about smoking habits in order to begin the conversation, and to both start and emphasize the cessation process.
2. ADVISE YOUR PATIENTS TO QUIT.
All surgical patients should be strongly advised to quit for as long as possible before and after surgery. Even if patients are not willing to quit for good, advise them to "quit for a bit" from at least the morning of surgery to one week after surgery.
3. REFER YOUR PATIENTS TO RESOURCES THAT CAN HELP THEM QUIT.
Few physicians have the time or expertise to provide extensive help to their patients, but there are experts available. You may have resources in your practice like tobacco treatment specialists. If you don't, telephone quitlines provide free help to all Americans who want to quit smoking. And of course, you can always refer your patients to this website's QUIT NOW page.
This video demonstrates a simple one-minute intervention to promote abstinence during a preoperative evaluation.
Additional training and resources are available at Rx For Change.