Physician anesthesiologists witness the devastating consequences of cigarette smoking on a daily basis – both in the long-term toll exacted by smoking-related diseases, and in the increased risks for acute perioperative complications such as bronchospasm and wound infections. Many may feel there is little we can do – but in fact, physician anesthesiologists can play an important role in helping patients deal with their smoking. Evidence shows that every time a physician tells a patient to stop smoking, it increases the chance they will ultimately quit, and clinical practice guidelines recommend that smoking status be addressed explicitly in every visit a patient has with a physician. The time of surgery is an especially “teachable moment” that increases the chances that smokers will quit. The potential payoff is huge – smoking abstinence significantly reduces the risk for perioperative...

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