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Stop Smoking Before Surgery

Why now?

Northern BC has the highest rate of cancer death compared to other health regions in BC1. The smoking rate is 24%, much higher than the provincial average of 14%2, and the region has the highest rate of lung cancer3. Avoiding tobacco has been shown to be one of the most important ways to reduce one’s lifetime risk of developing and dying from cancer4.

Surgery provides incentive and a timeline to stop smoking

Heightened concerns about one’s health prior to non-emergency surgery presents as an important time to provide 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 Champix or Zyban and free nicotine gum or patch).


Reduces the risks of complications.5


Lowers the chance of surgical site infections.6


Shortens hospital stays & reduces health care costs.

Team Members

Click on the pictures below to learn more about each team member.

Principal Investigators



Research Staff

  • 1 British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency. (2011). Summary Statistics by Health Authority, British Columbia, 2007–2011 In Selected Vital Statistics and Health Status Indicators: One Hundred and Fortieth Annual Report.
  • 2 Northern Health. (2012). Position on Tobacco reduction. An integrated population health report.
  • 3 BC Cancer Agency. (2012) British Columbia 2011 Regional Cancer Report. Population Oncology.
  • 4 Gapstur SM, Thun MJ. (2010). Progress in the war on cancer. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 303, 1084-1085.
  • 5 Wong, J. et al. (2012). Short-term preoperative smoking cessation and postoperative complications: A systemic review and meta-analysis. Canadian Journal of Anesthesia, 59, 268-279.
  • 6 Serensen, L.T. (2012). Wound healing and infection in surgery. The clinical impact of smoking and smoking cessation: A systemic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Surgery, 147, 373-383.
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