More doctors are recommending electronic cigarettes to their patients as a way to stop smoking, but rarely have consistent information about their safety, new research suggests.
The study, believed to be the first to measure attitudes toward e-cigarettes among physicians treating adult smokers, suggests more research is needed on the safety of e-cigarettes. Findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.
“Even in the absence of evidence regarding the health impact of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, a third of physicians we surveyed are recommending e-cigarettes to their patients to help quit smoking,” says Leah Ranney, one of the authors of the survey and associate director of the Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“Yet, e-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA for smoking cessation. It is clear that physicians should refrain from recommending e-cigarettes until more is known about their safety.”
Physicians are more likely to recommend e-cigarettes when their patients ask about them or when the physician believes e-cigarettes are safer than smoking standard cigarettes.
However, doctors often have inconsistent information about the safety of using e-cigarettes. In the current survey, 13 percent were unaware that e-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA.
“Physicians may choose to use FDA-approved medications rather than devices and products not approved by FDA,” says coauthor Adam Goldstein, a family medicine physician.
The study surveyed a random sample of 128 North Carolina physicians about their attitudes towards e-cigarettes. Two thirds (67 percent) of the surveyed physicians indicated e-cigarettes are a helpful aid for smoking cessation, and 35 percent recommended them to their patients.
Other researchers from UNC Chapel Hill and from Benedictine University were also coauthors of the study.
Source: UNC-Chapel Hill