Health Alerts & Hospital Advisories

Health Alerts & Hospital Advisories

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New CEO Blog emphasizes stopping smoking before surgery


Stop Smoking Before Surgery is an initiative to reduce the incidence of cancer in northern British Columbia by supporting individuals to stop smoking before surgery and stay tobacco free for recovery.

Avoiding tobacco has been shown to be one of the most important ways to reduce one’s lifetime risk of developing and dying from cancer. Stopping smoking before surgery reduces the risk of complications, lowers the chance of surgical site infections, and shortens hospitals stays. Surgery also provides incentive and a timeline to stop smoking. Heightened concerns about one’s health prior to non-emergency surgery presents an opportune time to participate in smoking cessation counseling. The pilot program will support health professionals to consistently provide advice and counseling with patients who smoke. A smoking cessation program prior to surgery aligns with current efforts in Northern Health to expand hospital-based smoking cessation services, and with the BC Ministry of Health’s recent initiative to provide smoking cessation aids (i.e., low-cost prescription ChampixTM or ZybanTM or free nicotine gum or patch).

The Stop Smoking Before Surgery initiative is part of the Harmonization Project, a new program and research initiative to strengthen cancer prevention strategies in northern B.C., where cancer incidence rates are the highest in the province. The Stop Smoking Before Surgery team includes partners from the Canadian Cancer Society, the BC Cancer Agency, and Northern Health along with researchers at the University of British Columbia who are working together to design, deliver, and evaluate this initiative.