As a collective group, American physicians seem to be very confused about vaping as a smoking cessation tool. On the one hand, there are reams of scientific data like the studies released by the Royal College of Physicians just last year that indicate vaping is 95 percent safer and healthier than smoking. On the other hand, doctors often hear conflicting statements from such notable officials as the U.S. Surgeon General claiming that vaping is just as toxic as smoking. Whom should the medical community believe?
The hypothetical case study
A group of scientists from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, decided to find out. The results of the new study are published in the Annals of American Thoracic Society.
The scientists began by sending hundreds of physicians a clinical case survey that describes a hypothetic scenario of a 27-year old woman suffering from persistent asthma. She also just happens to be addicted to smoking.
In the fictional case study, the patient is also on a regimen of inhaled fluticasone and salmeterol to keep her asthmatic symptoms under control. She knows that smoking only exacerbates her symptoms, but she also admits to her doctor that she has tried several, more conventional smoking cessation products and medications like Chantix to help her quit smoking.
However, none of them have been effective. During her hypothetical doctor’s visit, she asks if she can try vaping instead.
Alarmingly, only 27 percent of the physicians surveyed admitted that they would indeed recommend e-cigarettes – even though the patient has already admitted that she will never, ever try other stop smoking aids like “the patch” or nicotine gum ever again. In her mind, they simply don’t work.
While 27 percent give the theoretical patient renewed hope by supporting her choice to vape, the other 73 percent essentially give the asthmatic patient no hope at all. When faced with the choice of smoking or vaping, these doctors choose smoking!
Who is to blame for this ridiculously illogical state of affairs? Boston University Professor of Public Health, Dr. Michael Siegel, believes statements made by poorly educated public officials from such government agencies like the CDC and the FDA are to blame.
“While this is truly appalling, I do not blame the physicians. They have been misled and confused by a major campaign of deception being waged by anti-tobacco groups and some health agencies, including the FDA and the CDC. These groups have lied to physicians and deceived them about the nature of e-cigarettes, their risks, and the relative risks of smoking compared to vaping.”
“For example, the CDC has told physicians that e-cigarettes are simply another ‘form of tobacco use.’ The FDA has told physicians that there is no evidence that vaping is any safer than smoking. Many anti-tobacco groups have told physicians that vaping is actually worse than smoking. Several anti-tobacco researchers have told physicians that vaping poses a higher cancer risk than smoking. Recently, some anti-tobacco researchers told physicians that vaping poses a higher risk of stroke than smoking. And many organizations have told physicians that vaping causes bronchiolitis obliterans (‘popcorn lung’) without even a suggestion that smoking also causes this severe, progressive lung disease.
Others suggest the reasons for the 27 percent results might be attributed to the public perception that “smoking is bad.” Since the vapor produced from vaping technology looks a whole lot like conventional smoke from tobacco cigarettes, perhaps even doctors make the irrational mental leap that vaping and smoking are one-in-the-same.