Study reveals smoking patients asking doctors about better alternatives
The study, Communication Between US Physicians and Patients Regarding Electronic Cigarette Use, says doctors are significantly more likely to recommend e-cigarettes for heavy smokers while recommending FDA-approved drugs, such as nicotine gum, for occasional smokers. (Photo: Pexels)

A study conducted by Rutgers University in the United States reveals that 70 per cent of doctors reported that their adult smoking patients had asked them about e-cigarettes and other smoke-free products, evidencing a growing interest in better alternatives than the traditional cigarette. A third of the doctors also said their patients had asked them in the past 30 days.

The study, Communication Between US Physicians and Patients Regarding Electronic Cigarette Use, was published by the Journal of The American Medical Association, one of the world's leading popular science journals. According to it, doctors are significantly more likely to recommend e-cigarettes for heavy smokers while recommending FDA-approved drugs, such as nicotine gum, for occasional smokers.

"It's important to understand doctors' perspectives on e-cigarettes as a means of harm reduction. As evidence grows showing that e-cigarettes are potentially effective at quitting smoking, they may play a critical role in reducing the use of conventional cigarettes and, subsequently, of diseases caused by tobacco," said Michael Steinberg, author of the study. Steinberg is a medical director of the Rutgers-Tobacco Dependence Program at the Centre for Tobacco Studies, and division chief in the Department of Medicine at Rutgers School of Medicine.

Research results suggest that the more doctors understand that not all tobacco products are equally harmful, the more likely they are to recommend e-cigarettes or other smoke-free products to people seeking to quit smoking or those being treated for a disease caused by tobacco.

"It is critical to address doctors' misperceptions and educate them, in particular by correcting their misperceptions that all tobacco products are equally harmful, as opposed to the fact that burnt tobacco is by far the most dangerous," said lead author Cristine Delnevo, director of Rutgers' Centre for Tobacco Studies at Rutgers' School of Public Health.

Although progress has been made in reducing smoking in recent decades, smoking is still associated with approximately 480,000 deaths in the US each year, and effective strategies are still needed to reduce this loss.

Today there are smoke-free products scientifically supported as better options than continuing to smoke, since, unlike the traditional cigarette, they eliminate the combustion process which is the main cause of damage linked to smoking. In recent years alternative products to cigarettes have been developed such as electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products, aimed at those people who will otherwise continue to smoke.

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