Dr. David Mowat gives a misleading impression of why smokers are refused surgery sometimes. It is not a “slippery slope,” nor is it “discriminatory”. The  National Post’s coverage of Mowat and colleagues’ Current Oncology study correctly notes, and it bears repeating, that “smoking blunts the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, meaning lower survival; it worsens the side effects of treatment and increases the likelihood of a second cancer.” It also raises the likelihood of poorer surgical outcomes.
If you were told to fast for 12 hours before an important diagnostic test, or an operation, you would be sent home if you showed up having ignored instructions and eaten a full meal. Nicotine creates a terrible addiction, yes, but it can be overcome, and if a medical treatment requires at least temporarily stopping, smokers must act accordingly, in their own self-interest. Doctors who insist they comply with instructions are neither callous nor punitive, they are doing their part to ensure a good outcome. Their smoker patients must do the same.
Stan Shatenstein, Montreal.