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Survey: One Third of Physicians Recommend E-Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation

FDA has yet to weigh in

Physicians are increasingly discussing and recommending electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as smoking-cessation devices for their patients, but more research needs to be done on the efficacy and safety of these products, according to a new survey of North Carolina physicians published in PLOS One.

The study is believed to be the first to measure attitudes toward e-cigarettes among physicians treating adult smokers.

“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,” said co-author Leah Ranney, PhD. “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.”

The study found that physicians were more likely to recommend e-cigarettes when their patients asked about them or when the physician believed e-cigarettes were safer than smoking standard cigarettes. However, physicians often have inconsistent information about the safety of using e-cigarettes, and in this survey 13% 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 the FDA,” said co-author Dr. Adam Goldstein.

The surveyed involved a random sample of 128 North Carolina physicians. Two thirds (67%) of this group indicated that e-cigarettes are a helpful aid for smoking cessation, and 35% recommended them to their patients.

Source: University of North Carolina; July 30, 2014.

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