Most US Doctors Are Uneducated About E-Cigarettes

A large US study discussed during the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) 2022, found that most physicians remain misinformed about the relative benefits of vaping products and in turn spread inaccurate information about the products.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open last  April, the current study highlighted that while physicians could play a primary role in helping smokers quit, in most cases this opportunity is being lost. “Physicians play a primary role in patient smoking cessation, yet their communication regarding e-cigarettes is not well understood,” said the Rutgers researchers.

The research team analysed responses from 2,058 U.S. physicians from family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, pulmonary and oncology specializations in 2018 and 2019, regarding any communication with patients about e-cigarettes. The compiled data revealed that the majority remain uneducated about the relative benefits of the products.

“As the evidence base grows for e-cigarette efficacy for smoking cessation, physicians’ understanding of e-cigarettes in the context of harm reduction must keep pace with the emerging scientific evidence through effective educational opportunities.  Such opportunities should address e-cigarette safety and efficacy and correct misperceptions that all tobacco products are equally harmful,” said the study.

US health care professionals urged to promote the use of safer alternatives
Meanwhile, back in 2018, the National Tobacco Reform Initiative (NTRI), urged US health care professionals who normally are the first line of support for smokers seeking to quit, to embrace the concept of relative risk and promote the use of safer alternatives.

The NTRI who amongst its members boasts renowned anti-smoking advocate Derek Yach and the Attorney General of Iowa, Tom Miller, pointed out that a recent report by the US’ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), indicates that switching from smoking to vaping, carries significant health benefits.

“We urge these professionals, within and outside government, to embrace the concept of relative risk,” said a press note by the NRTI. “The science base clearly demonstrates that e-cigarettes represent less of a risk for smokers than continuing to smoke.”

The NTRI added that the NASEM report on e-cigarettes supports the FDA’s vision which includes having reduced risk nicotine products available for cigarette addicts. “The fundamental truth, that smoking – not nicotine – is responsible for most of the harm, and that smokers should have a variety of potentially less harmful nicotine-containing products if they want or need to continue using nicotine, is the keystone of FDA’s approach.”