Millions of cigarette smokers require surgery each year. Those who quit smoking may reduce their risk of respiratory, cardiovascular, and wound-related complications. Scheduling of surgery may present a unique opportunity to help smokers quit permanently. Primary care providers can play an important role in helping their patients scheduled for surgery quit smoking before their operation and maintain their abstinence after surgery. To do so effectively, physicians need to understand (1) the consequences of smoking in the perioperative period and how quitting can mitigate these problems, (2) how surgery can serve as a "teachable moment" to aid in smoking cessation, and (3) specific techniques that can be used to help their patients quit smoking, including brief counseling and pharmacotherapy.