It’s The “Great American Smokeout” And Did You Know That Doctors May Refuse To Perform Surgery On Cigarette Smokers?

There are many health reasons to give up cigarettes for good, and you can start today as part of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, but if you need another reason to quit you may be motivated by knowing that smoking could lead to a doctor refusing to perform surgery on you.  In February 2018, the Charlotte Observer reported that a growing number of physicians have begun to ask patients to quit smoking or at least stop four to six months before and after the surgery.

stockfresh_3942704_cigarette-butt-no-smoking_sizeS-200x300According to the Observer, smokers do not fare as well as non-smokers following spinal fusion surgery and joint replacements, and one study found that smokers had an 80 percent higher chance than nonsmokers of needing repeat surgery after a joint replacement because of complications from an infection. This is because smoking inhibits blood flow, which in turn inhibits healing.

The Observer also reported that most doctors are paid through fee-for-service systems under which they are reimbursed for every appointment, test, or procedure and, thus, make more money when a patient has complications. Some surgeons who perform spine surgery and knee and hip replacements in Charlotte, however, have started using “value-based” systems in which a single “bundled payment” is accepted for each patient encounter. A doctor or hospital keeps the savings when care is delivered for less than the contract price but must absorb the extra cost when there are complications for which the patient requires additional care.

The Great American Smokeout is held by the American Cancer Society on the third Thursday of November of every year to provide “an opportunity for smokers to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives—not just for a day, but year-round.”

Did you know:

  • Heart rate and blood pressure drop 20 minutes after quitting.
  • Carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal 12 hours after quitting.
  • Circulation improves, and lung function increases two weeks to three months after quitting.
  • Heart attack risks drops dramatically one year after quitting.
  • Cancer risks are cut in half five years after quitting.

The American Cancer Society provides a helpful list of hints for friends and family members of smokers about how to help them quit. Many smokers are well aware of the health dangers that are involved in their habits, but they frequently find it too difficult to quit and simply cannot break certain routines they have often maintained for several years.

According to the health organization, the idea for the Great American Smokeout grew from a 1971 request by a guidance counselor at Randolph High School in Randolph, Massachusetts, for people to give up smoking for one day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund instead. A poster for the Smoke Out event on February 17, 1971, encouraged people to “light up a student’s future—not a cigarette.”

After Monticello Times editor Lynn R. Smith spearheaded the state’s first D-Day, or Don’t Smoke Day, in Minnesota, the American Cancer Society says the first official Smokeout occurred on November 18, 1976, when the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day. The American Cancer Society took the Great American Smokeout nationwide in 1977.

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