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Smoking and Surgery


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29 Apr 2016

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has contributed to a joint briefing providing health professionals and commissioners with clear advice and examples of good practice in relation to smoking and surgery.

This briefing has been produced in partnership with, health charity Action and Smoking Health, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Public Health.

In addition to smoking being responsible for almost 100,000 deaths every year across the country [1], research has shown that smokers are more likely to suffer a range of complications before, during and after surgery [2]. Quitting smoking has been shown to improve surgical outcomes through reducing risk and complications and as such provides cost savings to the NHS and social care system. [3]

The point at which the patient and surgeon agree that surgery should take place should also be seen as a ‘teachable moment’ where patients are often more receptive to intervention and more motivated to quit. As surgeons have a key role to play in supporting smokers to quit ahead of their operations RCSEd will be circulating the briefing amongst its membership in the coming weeks.

1.       ASH. Fact Sheet: Smoking Statistics, illness and death, 2015

2.       Theadom A, Cropley M. Effects of preoperative smoking cessation on the incidence and risk of intraoperative and postoperative complications in adult smokers: a systematic review. Tobacco Control 2006; 15: 352–8.

3.       RCSEd et al. Smoking and surgery: Risks associated with smoking and surgery, 2016


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