Doctors still unsure of e-cigarette benefits
Posted August 13, 2014
Every day, doctors tell their patients to quit smoking to lower their risk of life-threatening diseases.
A recent survey by the University of North Carolina asked doctors what strategies they recommend. It found that more and more physicians are pointing their patients to electronic cigarettes, perhaps based on misinformation.
UNC researchers surveyed 128 North Carolina physicians about their attitudes toward e-cigarettes.
- 2 out of 3 believed e-cigarettes were a useful smoking cessation aid
- 35 percent e-cigarettes to their patients to help them quit
The survey also found some doctors have false assumptions about the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes.
"In our sample, 13 percent of physicians thought these were already regulated by the FDA when, indeed, they are not right now," said Dr. Adam Goldstein, leader of the study.
Goldstein said the FDA does recommended smoking cessation aids like nicotine patches, lozenges and gum, but those products alone don't work for most smokers.
"Combine that with counseling. None of us would say, 'Just give us a drug,'" he said.
"It's that combination that gives people the greatest success in quitting – 30 to 35 percent if you can really combine these things."
A study last year in the medical journal Lancet found that e-cigarettes, with or without nicotine, were no more effective than the nicotine patch at helping smokers quit.
Goldstein said he would wait for more research on e-cigarette products' overall benefits and their health risks, as well as FDA approval and regulations, before recommending them to his patients who want to quit smoking.
The FDA has limited sales of e-cigarettes products to people under 18.