SVS Launches National Initiative to Help Tobacco Users Quit

Aug 21, 2023

Rosemont, Ill., Aug. 21, 2023 – For smokers trying to kick the habit, The Society for Vascular Surgery’s Patient Safety Organization (SVS PSO) has created multiple resources, including a Patient Toolkit, as part of its new national smoking cessation initiative, CAN-DO.

CAN-DO (Choosing Against combustible Nicotine Despite Obstacles) includes several components to increase smoking cessation rates, including physician and patient toolkits; patient-centered education materials and physician participation in PSO registries. 

CAN-DO is part of the PSO’s Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI) of the SVS. The VQI mission is to improve the quality, safety, effectiveness and cost of vascular health care. 

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disability, 10 times more than the premature deaths from all wars fought by the United States,” said SVS PSO Associate Medical Director Dr. Gary Lemmon. Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease and more than 90 percent of cancer of the lungs and other organs; secondhand smoke increases the risk of death and disability to non-smokers.  

Lemmon added that while most smokers know tobacco use can damage their lungs, they may be unaware smoking is also bad for their blood vessels and can cause cancer throughout the body. Smokers have far more surgical complications and some surgeons hesitate to operate on patients who smoke unless it’s an emergency. 

Smoking also causes increased risk for peripheral artery disease and plaque building in arteries; narrows – and thus damages – blood vessel walls; increases blood pressure and heart rate and increases “bad” cholesterol and decreases “good” cholesterol. 

Both SVS and the American Heart Association advise patients to quit smoking before surgery.

The new Patient and Physician Toolkits offers many resources, including information on health effects and smoking statistics plus the health benefits of quitting. Additional tools include state smoking cessation plans and state-specific resources, resource guides, treatment options, phone apps, new technologies, podcasts and videos, tips from former smokers, supportive social media communities, telephone quitlines, information on electronic cigarettes and vaping products and more. 

In the United States, 30.8 million adults smoke cigarettes, 3.08 million middle and high school students (approximately 11 percent) use tobacco products, one in four people who don’t smoke are exposed to secondhand smoke and more than $240 billion a year goes to treat smoking-related diseases, said PSO Director of Quality Betsy Wymer. 

She and Lemmon noted that new technologies have multiplied the number of tools to help people quit. “Most adults try to quit six times before being successful,” said Wymer, and urged surgeons to stress, “It’s never too late to quit.” 

Learn more at View the Patient Toolkit here

About the SVS VQI
The SVS Vascular Quality Initiative is a collaboration of the Society for Vascular Patient Safety Organization (SVS PSO), 18 regional quality improvement groups organized the SVS PSO, and Fivos, its commercial technology partner. Its mission is to improve the quality, safety, effectiveness and cost of vascular health care.