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Stanford University Study shows U.S. physicians confused about e-cigs

Scientists from Stanford University recently published a new research study indicating that physicians are offering dramatically different kinds of advice to their patients regarding e-cigs and vaping devices.  The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and shows that doctors in the United States are as befuddled as the rest of the non-vaping community.  And who can blame them?  With millions of articles written on the topic, the Internet is flooded with a wide range of divergent opinions and intentionally falsified facts.

The vaping community is well aware of the large amounts of completely bogus ”scientific studies” found on the Internet.  Depending on which organization funds and publishes the study, the information can be easily tweaked to accommodate any point of view.  In fact, top medical journalists in the United States are regularly given access to an exclusive news story funded the FDA in exchange for their promise to never seek a second opinion regarding the study’s results.  If the journalists agree, then the FDA gives them the research days before everyone else.  And the scientists at Stanford University are very well aware of this somewhat devious tactic.

Stanford University monitors 500 online interactions between doctors and patients

In just the past year, there have been online rumors that electronic cigarettes can lead to everything from popcorn lung to vapers tongue. Some reports even claim that e-cig vapor is filled with deadly amounts of formaldehyde and other noxious chemicals.  Is it any wonder that the American medical community is just as confused as the rest of the population?  When the team from Stanford University monitored some 500 interactions between doctors and their patients when discussing electronic cigarettes, both the doctors’ knowledge and attitudes about vaping varied greatly.


The patient questions ranged from “Are electronic cigarettes safe?” to “Will vaping trigger my asthma?”  In some cases, the doctors answered by simply stating that there is not enough scientific research to indicate one way or the other.  In other cases, the physician was either decidedly pro-vaping or aggressively anti-vaping.  

  • 34 percent of the patients’ questions focused on possible side effects of e-cigs.
  • 27 percent focused on safety issues.
  • 19 percent focused on e-cigs as a stop-smoking aid.
  • 18 percent requested information regarding e-cig use with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • 14 percent asked about nicotine-free vaping as opposed to nicotine-enhance vaping.
  • 47 percent of physicians’ responses were deemed to be negative, perhaps even discouraging the patients from using e-cigs and vaping devices altogether.
  • 20 percent of physicians’ responses were deemed to be positive, perhaps encouraging the use of e-cigs and vaping devices as a smoking cessation tool, for example.
  • 33 percent of physicians’ responses were deemed to be neutral, either offering somewhat contradictory advice or a non-committal response.

Stanford University scientists also found a trend in the level of gratitude that the doctors received from their online patients after the medical advice was offered.  When the physician responded positively about e-cigs to the patient, they were handsomely rewarded with a proper “thank you” or similar response.  When the advice was negative, patients were far more likely to question their doctors’ level of authority in the field of e-cig research.  The Stanford University study is entitled Perceptions of Safety and Harm.



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