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Time Surrounding Pediatric Surgery Provides Excellent Opportunity to Help Parents Quit Smoking

Chicago — (June 22, 2011) 

A study published in the July issue of Anesthesiology has found that parents who smoke are more likely to attempt to quit during the time of their child’s surgery – but that they are not more likely to succeed. According to the study, these facts suggest that physicians could play an important role in assisting smokers with kicking the habit during this time.

Study authors David O. Warner, M.D. and Yu Shi, M.D., M.P.H., from Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, set out to determine whether there existed an association between children undergoing surgical procedures and changes in parents’ smoking behavior.

“We already know that when smokers have surgery themselves, they are more likely to quit smoking,” said Dr. Warner. “This study shows that when smokers’ children have surgery, it motivates the smoker to try to quit. However, they are not more likely to succeed. Thus, this represents a good opportunity for physicians such as anesthesiologists to help parents succeed.”

According to Drs. Warner and Shi, approximately one in seven children undergoing surgery in the United States is chronically exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS).

A clear relationship has been established between SHS exposure and risk of breathing problems during and after anesthesia, and increased frequency of conditions such as middle ear diseases are often seen in children exposed to SHS.

In this study, the researchers evaluated 1,112 children who lived with at least one person who smoked inside the home in a typical week. When surgery occurred in either the parent or child during a 12-month span, there was an increased likelihood that the parent would attempt to quit smoking. However, the attempts were more likely to succeed only if the parents themselves had the surgery.

“Our current findings suggest that having a child undergo surgery can serve as a teachable moment for quit attempts,” said Dr. Warner. “The scheduling of children for surgery may present us with an opportunity to provide tobacco interventions to parents, who are apparently more motivated to at least try to quit – but who need assistance to succeed.”

A variety of resources exist for people attempting to quit smoking, said Dr. Warner, including quitlines such as 1-(800) QUIT NOW. More information on this resource can be found here.

For more information on the study, visit the Anesthesiology website at


Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at . To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit Like ASA on Facebook , follow ASALifeline on Twitter and follow ASA on LinkedIn .



American Society of Anesthesiologists