Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ INDEX:

What if I already have cancer?
If nicotine is so dangerous, can I use nicotine patches in hospital?
I already tried to stop smoking several times, but I failed. Why should I try again?
I was scared to have surgery before I read this web site. Now I am even more scared. What can I do?
What medications can help me stop smoking?
Do acupunture and hypnosis help people stop smoking?
What can I expect when I call Smokers Helpline toll-free at 1 877 513-5333?
What is Smokers’ Helpline Online (at www.smokershelpline.ca)?
Who are Ontario’s Anesthesiologists?

 

What if I already have cancer?

It is sad how often the thing that finally makes some people stop smoking is getting cancer. Does that make sense? Fortunately, many cancers are treatable and some are even curable. If you need surgery to treat your cancer, then you should definitely stop smoking beforehand to reduce the risk of anesthesia and encourage healing after surgery. Even if you do not need surgery, smoking makes it harder for your body to heal and reduces the ability of blood cells to fight infection.

 

If nicotine is so dangerous, can I use nicotine patches in hospital?

Yes, it is safe to use nicotine patches in hospital around the time you have surgery. While nicotine is one of the significant poisons in tobacco smoke, a small amount of controlled regular low-dose nicotine is much less harmful than inhaling the hundreds of poisons in cigarette smoke, including a large and variable amount of nicotine.

 

I already tried to stop smoking several times, but I failed. Why should I try again?

Stopping smoking is difficult. The first time anyone tries to do anything difficult, they are likely to fail. The first time you tried to ride a bike, you probably fell off. When your children started playing a musical instrument, they probably sounded lousy for a while. It takes time and practice to get good at throwing or catching a baseball. The first mountaineers on Everest did not make it to the summit. Each group that tried learn something new about the mountain. They ruled out impossible routes, and found easier alternatives. They developed better equipment and became better organized. They learn about the weather, so they could choose the best season and be prepared for the conditions they now knew they could expect. Each time you try to stop smoking you learn something about what makes it easier to stay away from cigarettes and what makes it more difficult. You may find, for example, that going to a movie or starting knitting are good ways to respond to a craving for tobacco. You might learn that certain situations, like a family barbecue or drinking alcohol just make it too difficult, and you have to avoid these situations for a while. Perhaps you just need something to make it important to stop now rather than leave it another year, and a date for surgery provides that extra motivation.

 

I was scared to have surgery before I read this web site. Now I am even more scared. What can I do?

It is normal to be scared of some things. People are scared when they walk near the edge of a cliff, or see a wild animal, because these things are dangerous. Being scared makes them walk away, which is the right thing to do.

For a healthy person having a small operation, the risk of dying is about four in a million. For these patients, being driven to the hospital is probably more dangerous than the anesthetic. The sicker you are, the greater the risk, which is why you should stop smoking now so that you are less likely to have severe heart or lung disease next time you need an anesthetic. When you travel in a car, you don’ expect to be in an accident. But you should wear your seat belt just in case, to make your trip as safe as possible. Stopping smoking before surgery is a safety precaution, just like wearing a seat belt.

It is important to keep a sense of proportion about risks. Your surgeon knows about your health and has decided that for you, the benefits of surgery outweigh all the risks, including the risk of anesthesia. As an additional safeguard, your anesthesiologist will review your chart and ask you a few questions before the start of the anesthetic. If he or she feels you are not fit to proceed with surgery at that time, the operation will be canceled and rescheduled.

If you still have concerns, ask your surgeon if you can have a consultation with an anesthesiologist. He or she can check you out and give you the best advice about anesthesia risk. Your anesthesiologist might be able to offer alternatives, such as a regional block to freeze the area needing surgery, avoiding a general anesthetic.

 

What medications can help me stop smoking?

There are two main medications, Nicotine and Buproprion. Nicotine is available as patches, gum and inhaler, without a prescription. Trade names include “Habitrol”, “Nicoderm” and “Nicorette”. By providing a controlled amount of nicotine it reduces craving for cigarettes. Buproprion (“Zyban”) blocks nicotine receptors. It needs a prescription (as there are drug interactions and a very small risk of seizures) and should be started a week before stopping smoking. It can be used with nicotine products.

 

Do acupuncture and hypnosis help people stop smoking?

Although many people say that alternative treatments such as acupuncture and hypnosis have helped them, there is no scientific proof that these treatments work. However, if you believe that these methods may help you, and you have been unable to stop without some support, then there is no harm in trying them.

 

What can I expect when I call Smokers Helpline toll-free at 1 877 513-5333?

You’ll speak one-on-one with someone who understands what you’re going through. Their Quit Specialists can help you with:

  • making a quit plan that works for you
  • coping with cravings
  • information on quitting methods
  • withdrawal symptoms
  • managing stress
  • available services and resources

 

What is Smokers’ Helpline Online (at www.smokershelpline.ca)?

Smokers’ Helpline Online is an interactive, web-based service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week offering tips, tools and support to help with quitting smoking or other tobacco use.
Special features include:

  • Online discussion forum to post questions and experiences with fellow quitters
  • A “Quit Meter” that gives personalized feedback about financial and health gain based on your quit date.
  • “Quit Buddies”, an instant messenger service where you can send messages to others for quit support at any time.
  • “Inspirational e-mails” with helpful information, tips and tools for remaining smoke-free.

 

Who are Ontario’s Anesthesiologists?

Ontario’s Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who have taken additional training in anesthesiology. They are the experts on pre-operative assessment of patients, on providing general or regional anesthesia for surgery, and for providing pain relief after surgery, in childbirth, and for some chronic pain conditions. Some of Ontario’s Anesthesiologists are also involved in research and teaching, in administration, and in resuscitation. Click on their logo below to visit their web site for more information.