E-cigarettes are misunderstood by many doctors

According to a Rutgers study, many doctors think that all tobacco products are dangerous, so they are less likely to prescribe e-cigarettes to people who want to stop smoking or who have a tobacco-related condition.

In the United States, some 480,000 individuals die each year as a result of tobacco use. Despite the fact that the FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation device, many people approach their doctors about using them as a substitute for tobacco cigarettes or to help them quit. E-cigarettes work by heating a nicotine-laced liquid.

As evidence of e-cigarettes’ potential for smoking cessation grows, they may play a pivotal role in reducing cigarette use and, as a result, tobacco-caused disease, said study author Michael Steinberg, medical director of the Rutgers Tobacco Dependence Program at the Center for Tobacco Studies and division chief in the Department of Medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

It’s “critical to comprehend physicians’ viewpoints on e-cigarettes as a harm-reduction tool.”

The study, which was published in JAMA Network Open, polled 2,058 U.S. doctors in 2018 and again in 2019 about their e-cigarette communication with patients.

The researchers wanted to know how they would counsel two distinct patients who wanted to quit smoking: a young woman who was a light smoker who had never tried to quit, and an elderly man who smoked extensively and had tried to quit several times using various methods.

According to the study, physicians were considerably more likely to offer e-cigarettes to heavy smokers than FDA-approved treatments, such as nicotine gum or lozenges, to light smokers, according to the study.

Patients have asked over 70% of physicians about e-cigarettes, with one-third saying they have been asked in the last 30 days. More than 60% of doctors thought that all cigarette products were the same risk.

“These findings demonstrate the importance of correcting physicians’ misconceptions and educating them on the efficacy of e-cigarettes, particularly correcting their misconceptions that all tobacco products are equally harmful rather than the fact that combusted tobacco is by far the most dangerous,” said lead author Cristine Delnevo, director of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies and professor of Health Behavior, Society, and Policy at Rutgers School of Public Health.

The study also discovered that pulmonologists, cardiologists, and physicians who used the US Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guidelines for treating tobacco use and dependence, as well as those who endorsed a harm-reduction perspective and had smoked cigarettes themselves, were more likely to recommend e-cigarettes to patients. However, if a patient asked about e-cigarettes first, doctors were more likely to give them to him or her.

Michelle Jeong, Arjun Teotia, Michelle M. Bover, Manderski, Binu Singh, Mary Hrywna, and Olivia A. Wackowski were among the study’s other Rutgers authors.