The effect of smoking for postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) in minor surgical patients who have an early recovery has not been evaluated. Smoking may also affect intraoperative sputum volume. We thus evaluated whether smoking had a relation to intraoperative sputum volume or PPCs in minor surgical patients. Smoking status was determined through the interviewer-assisted questionnaires. Intraoperative sputum volume was judged using the number of trials to suck up sputum from the trachea. Current and Ex-smokers were significantly more likely to have an increased intraoperative sputum volume when compared with Non-smokers (18.3% and 17.9% vs. 9.4%) although the relationship between smoking and PPCs was not demonstrated. In the multivariate models, Current and Ex-Smokers was identified as an independent risk factor of an increased intraoperative sputum volume (odds ratio, 2.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.6-4.6). The patients with < 2 months smoking cessation were more likely to have an increased intraoperative sputum volume. In conclusion, smoking is the risk factor of an increased intraoperative sputum volume, and preoperative smoking cessation > or = 2 months is recommended to reduce the risk of an increased intraoperative sputum volume, although the relationship between smoking and PPCs was not elucidated in minor surgical patients.