A paper published in the current issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society called Pulmonologists’ and Primary Care Physicians’ Responses to an Adult Patient with Asthma Who Inquires about Using Electronic Cigarettes as a Smoking Cessation Tool, reports the results of a survey aimed at examining how physicians feel about recommending the use of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation to their patients.
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The study was carried out by presenting the healthcare providers with a scenario where a smoker goes to them seeking assistance to quit. The majority of them said that they would recommend FDA- approved medications before suggesting vaping products. Those physicians who said they would refrain from suggesting the products all together, were presented with an additional scenario where the smoker says he has already tried quitting via other medications, failed, and is specifically asking about electronic cigarettes. They were asked whether in this case they would consider recommending the products.
Most physicians chose smoking over vaping
Sadly, the survey found that in this particular situation the majority (73%), of the physicians, would still recommend against the use of e-cigarettes. In his blog, public health expert Dr. Michael Siegel commented about these results saying, “The results of this survey are truly appalling. What they tell us is that more than two-thirds of physicians are essentially counselling their patients to continue to smoke rather than to attempt to quit by switching to electronic cigarettes.”
Siegel adds that although this data is very worrying, as the doctors chose allowing their patients to keep on smoking, over trying the proven harm alternatives for smoking cessation, they are not the ones to blame. “They have been misled and confused by a major campaign of deception being waged by anti-tobacco groups and some health agencies, including the FDA and the CDC. These groups have lied to physicians and deceived them about the nature of e-cigarettes, their risks, and the relative risks of smoking compared to vaping.”
What about harm reduction?
A number of studies indicate the safety and effectiveness of vaping products, such as the often quoted study by Public Health England which found vaping to be at least 95% safer than smoking. This study proves once again how the misinformation about the products is proving detrimental to public health, and that it is imperative that this condemning stance that the US in general has adopted towards the products, changes soon, and is replaced by an attitude of harm reduction that would save millions of lives.
Nickels AS, Warner DO, Jenkins SM, Tilburt J, Hays JT. Pulmonologists’ and Primary Care Physicians’ Responses to an Adult Patient with Asthma Who Inquires about Using Electronic Cigarettes as a Smoking Cessation Tool. Annals of the American Thoracic Society 2017; 14(3): 466-468.