Earlier this year CNBC said that it had obtained a copy of the letter, in which Altria explains that the move would encourage smokers to switch from regular cigarettes to safer alternatives. Dated Feb. 25th and signed by Paige C. Magness, senior vice president of regulatory affairs, the letter cited government studies on the misconceptions about nicotine.
Conducted by researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey, the study titled “Nicotine Risk Misperception Among US Physicians” surveyed doctors from six specialties (family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, pulmonary and critical care to hematology and oncology) to explore their knowledge and recommendations about tobacco use, between September 2018 and February 2019.
A total of 1,020 doctors were asked about their understanding of tobacco treatment practices, harm reduction beliefs and tobacco and e-cigarette use.
GPs more likely than oncologists to link nicotine to cancer
Sadly, the compiled data indicated that 83% of the doctors inaccurately believed that nicotine directly contributed to heart disease and 81% to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The responses also indicated that pulmonologists were less likely than other specialties to link nicotine consumption to COPD and family doctors were more likely than oncologists to believe that nicotine causes cancer.
“Physicians must understand the actual risk of nicotine use as they are critical in the prescription and recommendation of FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy products to help patients who use other dangerous forms of tobacco,” said Michael B. Steinberg, director of the Rutgers Tobacco Dependence Program and a professor and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Doctors should be able to accurately communicate these risks, which may include low-nicotine cigarettes, which are not safer than traditional cigarettes.”