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Editor's Correspondence
Aug 8 2011

What Is a Reasonable Threshold for Worries About Health Risks?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, England.

Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(15):1401-1404. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.341

We were surprised by the Invited Commentary on our article1 by Chow and Devereaux.2 The review we presented failed to find evidence of risk across all existing studies of presurgery smoking cessation. We also examined the theory that underpinned concerns that stopping smoking shortly before surgery can be dangerous and reported that the notion that ex-smokers cough less and produce more sputum is not supported by the facts. The Invited Commentary repeats some of the caveats we made in the article regarding the limited scope and quality of available data, but unlike the article, it actually concludes that stopping smoking shortly before surgery is not safe after all. We fail to see the logic of this conclusion.

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