2014 National Anaesthesia Day

Stop smoking - it's never too late 

"Stop smoking before your anaesthetic "every day makes a difference".NAD poster 2014


This was the message for 2014 National Anaesthesia Day, which was held throughout Australia and New Zealand on October 16, the anniversary of the day in 1846 that ether anaesthetic was first demonstrated in Boston, Massachusetts. 


2014 National Anaesthesia Day coincided with the formal release of the College's PS 12 Guidelines on Smoking as Related to the Perioperative Period. The focus was on the dangers of smoking and anaesthesia and how anaesthetists can play a role in helping patients stop smoking. 


As PS 12 says, tobacco use is the single greatest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia and New Zealand. At least half of all smokers will eventually die as a result of their smoking according to conservative estimates. Annually, about 15,500 deaths in Australia and 5000 in New Zealand are attributable to tobacco. 


Smokers are at increased risk of perioperative respiratory, cardiac and wound-related complications.


Seize the opportunity - the anaesthetist and advocacy 

The perioperative period represents a “teachable moment” when many smokers quit or attempt to quit smoking, sometimes permanently.


The Smoking Cessation Taskforce of the American Society of Anesthesiologists developed a simple three-point cessation strategy (A-A-R = Ask, Advise, Refer). This involves always asking patients about their smoking status (even when known), advising them of the perioperative risks and referring them to locally available smoking cessation support.


In keeping with this theme, The Alfred hospital in Melbourne has created a "Start the conversation" campaign. 


It's never too late for patients to stop smoking:

  • Quitting smoking for one day will lower carboxyhaemoglobin and nicotine levels and could be expected to improve tissue oxygen delivery.
  • Quitting smoking for as little as three weeks has been shown to improve wound healing.
  • Quitting smoking for six to eight weeks results in sputum volumes that are not increased compared to non-smokers, and improved pulmonary function. 
  • Immune function is significantly recovered by six months after quitting smoking.

What we did in 2014

The aim of National Anaesthesia Day is to lift the community profile of the specialty. This is achieved through face-to-face interactions between anaesthetists and the public.


Community Attitudes Survey commissioned by ANZCA in 2013 found that, despite 96 per cent of people reporting experience of a general anaesthetic (personally or through a close family member) many were unaware of the training or qualifications of anaesthetists.


In 2014, Communications produced a "Stop smoking before your anaesthetic - every day makes a difference" poster. It included the line "Anaesthetists - caring for the body and its breath of life", a translation of the ANZCA coat of arms motto "Corpus curare spiritumque" as inspiration.


All heads of anaesthesia departments throughout Australia and New Zealand were contacted and encouraged to participate through running foyer displays or other activities.


The poster and other promotional materials, including National Anaesthesia Day balloons, were sent all hospitals. Kits included:


 NAD poster-thumbnail.gif cover letter-thumbnail.gif
2014 National Anaesthesia Day poster.
Click here for a copy.
"Stop smoking before your anaesthetic" leaflet.
Click here for a copy.
"Who is your anaesthetist?" flyer.
Click here for a copy.


Patient information 

Printable patient information sheets were also available here.


Media campaign

The College also ran a successful media campaign and issued media releases:

A full report on 2014 National Anaesthesia Day can be found in the December 2014 ANZCA Bulletin.

Copyright © Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.