Stop before your op

Updated on 28 June 2016

Smokers in the Vale of York are being encouraged to kick the nicotine habit – especially if they are due to have hospital treatment or an operation; a time when it is even more important to ditch cigarettes for good.

Patients that smoke and have surgery are at the greatest risk of complications during or after an operation. These include potentially serious complications that can affect the lungs or heart as well as problems related to the general anaesthetic which is vital in the majority of surgical procedures.

Fighting infection is also more difficult for a smoker; whilst the risk of breathing problems increases too. There is also an increased chance of a longer stay in hospital. The wounds and bones in smokers also take longer to heal because of the reduced blood flow and lower oxygen levels in the blood.

Smoking reduces the benefits from treatment and the effects of recovery. There is a 1 in 3 risk of smokers experiencing breathing problems after an operation, but by stopping smoking at least eight weeks before the operation, the risk drops dramatically to 1 in 10.

Nicotine is highly addictive but with help and support more and more people are finding it easier to stop. That is why patients in the Vale of York area who require elective surgery; that is surgery scheduled for a future date, will be encouraged to give up in time for the operation and for good.

Because we are all different, some people will prefer one way to stop smoking as opposed to another. That is why GPs will be offering lots of different ways to go smoke free including:

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) sprays, gum and patches to manage withdrawal

  • Prescription medicines such as Zyban and Champix

Patients see the diagnosis of a smoking related illness as a wake-up call to stop smoking and given that a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of post-operative complications, Stop before your op offers patients who smoke the ideal opportunity to give up before they are faced with the diagnosis of a serious condition.

The CCG has worked closely with colleagues in the City of York Council’s Public Health Team to develop our policy which further promotes and enhances the important work of local stop smoking services and reinforces the CCG’s aim to achieve the best in health and wellbeing for everyone.

In line with
‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People; a tobacco control plan for England', local authorities and health professionals in the Vale of York area are committed to encourage more smokers to quit.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable morbidity and premature death in England. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that people who smoke have a considerably increased risk of intra- and post-operative complications such as chest infections, lung disorders, wound complications and impaired healing.

These complications compromise the intended outcomes and increase the costs of care. Post-operative infections prolong hospital stay, increase admissions to intensive care and increase re-admission rates. Increased use of hospital beds and associated costs mean less opportunity to treat other patients.

Click here to download the 'Stop before your op' patient leaflet.

Click here to read about the health benefits of quitting smoking that start almost immediately and are evidence based.

Smoke Free Action

As part of our on-going commitment to create and support healthy communities, NHS Vale of York CCG has joined forces with the Smokefree Action Coalition.

Millions of lives each year are shattered by a life time addiction to tobacco. It is the biggest cause of preventable illness in this country and a significant drain on health services.

Smoking is still the major preventable cause of death and disease and inequalities in health, killing over 100,000 people across the UK each year. One in four adults still smoke, and children of smokers remain exposed to second hand smoke. And smoking rates are much higher in some social groups, including those with the lowest incomes. These groups suffer the highest burden of smoking-related illness and death.

As commissioners of local healthcare we have joined the Smokefree Action Coalition as a demonstration of our commitment to tackling health inequalities and premature deaths.

To find out more about the Coalition please visit