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Opinion

December 19, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Dec. 19, 2012

Tobacco dangers

TO THE EDITOR: As an orthopedic surgeon, I urge state legislators to continue funding the Tobacco Control Program.

My patients’ health and well-being is on the line when they use tobacco, and we need all the assistance we can get in this war against the tobacco industry.

The North Country Tobacco Cessation Center, funded by the state program, offers invaluable assistance to health-care providers, including tools and resources.

I see firsthand how tobacco creates complications for my patients before and after surgery. Cigarette smoke contains poisons that put your heart at risk. Inhaling carbon monoxide, which is present in cigarette smoke, reduces the amount of oxygen that blood carries to your heart and other vital organs. A decreased amount of oxygen to the surgery site makes it more difficult for the body to heal and increases risk of infection. In addition, smoking damages patients’ lungs, and smokers are at a greater risk of breathing problems after anesthesia as a result.

Ideally, people who need surgery should stop smoking six to eight weeks before to give the body time to become stronger and increase chances of a quick recovery. Stopping smoking will make the hospital stay more comfortable, as no smoking is allowed there, and will improve your health overall.

When you stop smoking, your body begins to heal. Six months after quitting, lung functions improve by 10 percent; after one year, the heart-attack risk drops 50 percent.

If you are a tobacco user, the best thing you can do is to quit. Consider seeing your health-care provider and learn how. They have the tools to help you quit successfully.

Or call the New York State Smokers Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487). a free, confidential service to help you become smoke-free.

DR. MARCO BERARD

Alice Hyde Medical Center

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