Smoking Assistance Joint Statement - SVS-SVN

Jan 03, 2017


Vascular Surgery Teams Urged to
Actively Provide Smokers with Cessation Assistance

CHICAGO, Illinois, Jan. 3, 2017 – The Society for Vascular Surgery and the Society for Vascular Nursing encourage vascular surgery teams to actively assist smokers with smoking cessation before surgery. The reasons are two-fold:

• Impending surgery provides many patients with a “teachable moment” (1) when they are more receptive to stopping a bad habit

• The evidence is strong that surgery patients have better outcomes (2) and better survival rates (3) if they are non-smokers or have quit, even for just a short time. Because of the effect of cigarette smoking on the body’s vascular system, non-smokers are more likely to survive surgery than smokers, need fewer interventions to regain their health and have a shorter recovery time.

Studies show that patients who quit or don’t smoke have a much lower risk of wound complications than those who smoke, and their time on a ventilator can be half as long after surgery.

The SVS and SVN encourage surgical teams to develop staff processes to work with smokers to help them quit before surgery. This assistance could involve referrals to smoking cessation clinics or the use of trained nursing staff. Patients could be provided prescriptions for smoking cessation, advice about nicotine patches and information about smoking cessation hotlines, support groups or some combination of assistance. In a pilot trial called VAPOR (4), supported by a grant from the Society for Vascular Surgery, options that were customized to the patient’s needs worked best. Many published studies have recommendations for smoking cessation processes and products. (5)

“We need to find the best ways to help our patients quit smoking before surgery,” said Dr. R. Clement Darling, president-elect of the SVS. “Given how important quitting smoking can be for our patients and the vascular care we provide, the SVS believes that vascular surgeons have a unique and important responsibility to patients to provide smoking cessation assistance before surgery.

“Whether we are providing office-based care in the clinic or invasive care in the inpatient setting, we should encourage our patients to quit. This also means supporting these efforts through referrals to local smoking cessation resources, as well as free, federally supported smoking cessation quit lines such as 800-QUIT NOW. It is up to us to act.”

“Ensuring that every vascular surgery patient has access to cessation assistance is an important role for surgical support teams,” said Marie Rossi, RN, president of the SVN. “Our organization joins the SVS in urging all surgical teams to develop processes to ensure that patients have the best chance at healthy outcomes.”


1 Teachable moments:
4 VAPOR trial
5 (paste link into your browser)
The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a 5,600-member, not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of specialty-trained vascular surgeons, which seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness.

The Society for Vascular Nursing (SVN) is a non-profit organization with nearly 600 members. Its mission is to provide a professional community for nurses focused on advancing the care of persons living with vascular disease through excellence in evidence-based practice and education.