A recent survey found that a substantial number of clinicians believe e-cigarettes can help patients reduce or stop smoking, with 37.9% stating they having recommended e-cigarettes to patients who smoke.

An eight-page survey regarding practice patterns surrounding smoking cessation and e-cigarettes was sent to 1500 physicians; a total of 561 (44%) responded. Thirty-three were primary care physicians, 31% were surgical care physicians, and 36% were pulmonologist. 

Overall, 55.9% of clinicians agreed with the statement that e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes, however 65% reported that they believe e-cigarettes have adverse health effects. Seventy point four percent agreed with the statement that e-cigarettes can help patients quit smoking and 53% agreed with the statement thate-cigarettes can lower the risk of tobacco-related disease. When asked if they would recommend e-cigarettes to patients in an effort to quit smoking, 30% stated that they would endorse this approach while 21% stated they would recommend against it. 

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Surgical care physicians disagreed significantly with pulmonary specialists on the matter of e-cigarettes ability to reduce/eliminate regular cigarette use; 22% vs. 32% (P<0.001) agreed that they can lower the risk of tobacco-related disease, 14% vs. 31% (P<0.001) agreed that they can help patients quit smoking, and 20% vs. 29% (P<0.001) agreed with the statement that they are safer than regular cigarettes.

Clinician guidance on e-cigarette use varies, and policy statements have uniformly called attention to the limited evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of usingthis method for smoking cessation.

“Despite limited evidence these products are effective for smoking cessation or are safe for long term use, physicians appear to be tolerant of these products and some are recommending them,” said co-author of the study Andrew S. Nickels, MD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “I am hopeful […] that more detailed evidence based guidelines emerge to help clinicians as they continue to work with their patients.”

For more information visit OxfordJournals.org