In a survey of 773 pulmonologists, the majority of the physicians did not believe e-cigarettes were an effective method of smoking cessation.
Researcher Stephen Baldassarri, MD, of Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., revealed the findings at CHEST 2016, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.
“The vast majority of physicians who answered the survey — about 88 percent — reported that at least some of their patients had asked their opinion about e-cigarettes,” said Baldassarri, “and four out of five reported their patients were using e-cigarettes to stop smoking.”
Only one-third of the physicians surveyed said they would recommend e-cigarettes to assist with smoking cessation. One-third said they would not, and one-third did not know.
E-cigarettes not only have been found to contain dangerous chemicals such as diacetyl and formaldehyde, but also have negative vascular effects. Diacetyl is a flavoring chemical that has been linked to lung diseases such as bronchiolitis obliterans, a disease that is only treatable by lung transplant.
Of the survey, 68 percent of respondents believed that vaping was harmful, and 72 percent believed that daily e-cigarette use was not safe.
“The survey answers underscore the problem we have with e-cigarettes,” Baldassarri said, “which is that we just don’t have enough data to give providers and patients the information they need to make important choices. If a patient asks two different doctors about e-cigarettes and whether they can help them quit smoking they are likely to get two different answers.”
David Schulman, MD, a pulmonologist at Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, is not convinced that e-cigarettes are safe enough to be promoted as smoking cessation.
“Cigarettes have hundreds of chemicals in addition to nicotine that e-cigarettes don’t have,” said Schulman. “But e-cigarettes have flavorings and we don’t know if they are safe for long-term use. The studies haven’t been done.”