Although they lack FDA approval and research has not yet shown they help with smoking cessation, one-third of U.S. physicians are recommending e-cigarettes as a way for smoker patients to kick the habit, according to new study in PLOS One.
How FDA wants to regulate e-cigarettes
Most of the nicotine in e-cigarettes enters the bloodstream through vapor (not smoke) through smoker's cheeks (not lungs).
For the study, University of North Carolina (UNC) researchers surveyed 128 randomly selected physicians about their attitudes toward e-cigarettes. Two-thirds of the doctors said they believed the devices could be a useful tobacco cessation tool and 35% said they already recommend them to their smoker patients. Physicians said they were more likely to recommend e-cigarettes if their patients asked for information about them.
"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 study co-author Leah Ranney, who also serves as the associate director of the Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program at UNC.
However, Ranney noted the devices are not FDA-approved for smoking cessation, so "physicians should refrain from recommending e-cigarettes until more is known about their safety." Moreover, 13% of the physicians were not aware that e-cigarettes are not FDA-approved.
E-cigarettes may help patients quit smoking
UNC physician and co-author Adam Goldstein noted that "physicians may choose to use FDA-approved medications rather than devices and products not approved by FDA" (Dallas, HealthDay , 8/1; Bushak, Medical Daily, 8/2).
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