Preparing for surgery? It may be your time to quit smoking

The initiative is part of the Harmonization Project, collaborating with the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. Cancer Agency and Northern Health, along with researchers at the University of British Columbia and Athabasca University.

“Most people who smoke are aware of the negative health effects of smoking and many think about quitting,” Nancy Viney from Northern Health – Tobacco Reduction said. “What many people don’t know is that upcoming surgery is an optimal time to quit to improve surgical outcomes. This is also important as the north has higher rates of smoking.”

The report says quitting smoking prior to surgery reduces the risk of complications, speeds healing and shortens hospital stays.

It goes on to remind smokers of the risk factor associated to lung or other cancers, amounting to 85 per cent of lung cancer cases, which continues to be the number one cause of death from cancer for both men and woman in B.C.

A survey form last year found while only 8 per cent quit smoking, 38 per cent of Northern Health surgical patients reduced their smoking. Although, 40 percent were unaware of the ministry’s program to cover the cost of smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum or patches.

All health care professionals who come in contact with patients planning non-emergency surgery are being invited to engage in a brief intervention and to refer their patients to provincial services, such as alerts reminding patients of the benefits of smoking cessation and QuitNow smart step booklets, which have already been delivered to most clinics in Northern B.C.

“It is important that all patients who are planning to undergo a surgical procedure be aware of the benefits of quitting 6 – 8 weeks before their surgery, general surgeon at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia, Dr. Nadine Caron says. “We also encourage patients to stay smoke free for their recovery and plan to stay smoke free long term for better heath.

Once a year, B.C. residents enrolled with the Medical Services Plan can receive PharmaCare coverage of a single continuous course of treatment of a prescription smoking cessation drug or a free 12-week supply of a nicotine replacement gum or patches.

For more information, call HealthLink B.C. at 811 or visit www.quitnow.ca. There’s also information on the QuitNow website specifically for patients who are having surgery.

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