Patients urged to ‘stop smoking before their op’

Dr Will Key - Consultant anaesthetist

Published: 12 March 2019

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, is encouraging patients to stop smoking before having surgery to reduce the risk of potential complications.

Patients are reminded of the Trust’s ‘Stop Before Your Op’ campaign which coincides with this year’s national No Smoking Day (Wednesday 13 March), to highlight and encourage the importance of stopping smoking.

The Trust’s Healthy Lifestyles team is encouraging, patients, visitors and staff to kick the smoking habit with access to support and advice.

Stopping smoking eight weeks or more before an operation is the most important action patients can take to improve their health before surgery. The longer patients have gone without smoking the better, but even stopping two or three days prior to surgery can increase oxygen levels and reduce risk and improve outcomes.

Stopping smoking eight weeks before an operation is a really important step patients can take to improve their health before surgery. There is good evidence that stopping smoking before hospital admission:

  • Improves wound healing
  • Can reduce length of stay
  • Improves bone healing after fracture repair
  • Significantly reduces the risk of hospital acquired infections such as MRSA
  • In the long term, reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and premature death

Doctor Will Key, Consultant Anaesthetist at the Trust, said: “There is clear medical evidence that smokers undergoing major surgery have a significantly higher risk of complications. Smoking increases the risk of blood clots, reduces the amount of oxygen that can be carried in the blood and affects the function of the lungs. Smoking also affects the body’s ability to heal wounds all of which increases the risk of complications around the time of surgery.

“Most people know about the longer term harm that smoking does to your health and wellbeing, but fewer understand how their surgery and recovery can be adversely affected. The good news is these risks can be reduced by stopping smoking before surgery. Evidence shows patients stopping even as little as four weeks before surgery have a measurable reduction in chest complications after surgery, though clearly the longer you have stopped smoking the better.

“There’s never been a better time to give up smoking with advice and support available in the wider community to help you stop before your op and speed up your recovery.”

Paul Sheward, the Trust’s Healthy Lifestyles Lead, said: “Not only do we have a smoke free policy on all Trust sites, but we want to help as many people as possible stop smoking before undergoing surgery.

“Smoking is increasingly expensive and a 20 a day habit can cost up to £4,000 a year. Quitting is also the single most important thing a person can do to look after their health. Not only will it mean better general health such as more energy and better skin, it will most importantly reduce the risk of serious illnesses such as heart and lung disease and cancer.”

“Our smoking advisors help hundreds of people each year and can give tailored support and advice on quitting as well as reducing harm from tobacco, by using alternatives such as e-cigarettes. Those people who want to take the first steps can often be unsure how to quit and will try to go it alone but people are up to four times more likely to quit with the help of the stop smoking service”

For more information on quitting smoking visit Devon : visit or call 01392 908 139, Torbay : visit or call 0300 456 1006, Plymouth : visit or call 01752 437177; NHS Smokefree National Helpline 0300 123 1044 or search ‘smoke free’ for your free Personal Quit Plan.


  • People can speak to a trained adviser who will inform them about the range of free support available from the NHS to help them stop smoking.
  • The NHS Smokefree website features videos from experts and real-life quitters talking about stopping smoking, information and advice to help motivate smokers who want to quit, support materials to order or download and a number of interactive tools.

No Smoking Day

  • No Smoking Day is a UK wide charity that runs the highly successful annual health campaign helping smokers who want to quit and is a registered charity supported by an alliance of the UK’s health promotion agencies and major health charities. The campaign’s mission is to inspire as many smokers as possible to help them beat their addiction and take control of their health and looks.,
  • The No Smoking Day charity runs, an online hub where people wishing to quit can find out about help available, get tips and advice on how to succeed and chat with other smokers wishing to quit and ex-smokers who understand what they are facing.