New Studies Circulate As FDA Research Continues

A new study at UNC School of Medicine inquired about N.C. personal physicians’ outlook pertaining to electronic cigarettes as a possible solution for eliminating traditional tobacco for older smokers. The study produced on July 29th in the publication http://www.plosone.org. Read the full study here.

Roughly 67% of the physicians questioned in the research agreed that e-cigs can be a useful tool when looking for a solution in eliminating tobacco, 65% of the physicians believe that electronic cigarette usage represents a much less chance of cancer when compared to a typical tobacco cigarette, and 35% of the same physicians recommended e-cigs to their patients who smoke. These recommendations were still made regardless of the fact that the FDA has yet to regulate the use of e-cigarettes.

This research is good news for current users of electronic cigarette users who are using e-cigs to help reduce or quit using tobacco. It shows that medical professionals are at least having conversations about these products with their patients and, for many of the doctors involved, they believe that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking tobacco.

Another recent study published late May in the Addiction Journal showed that the e-vapor produced in electronic cigarettes “can contain some of the toxins present in tobacco smoke, but at levels which are much lower.” This study conducted by 5 researchers, 2 of which were linked to a Federal Drug Administration tobacco panel, used approximately 81 different studies during its overall review.  In conjunction, a scientific review on e-cigs from the Addiction Journal concluded with the comparison of conventional cigarettes, claiming that they are less likely to be as harmful. Peter Hajek of London's Queen Mary University states “the evidence we currently have is clear: e-cigarettes should be allowed to compete against conventional cigarettes in the marketplace. Health care professionals may advise smokers who are unwilling to cease nicotine use to switch to e-cigarettes. Smokers who have not managed to stop with current treatments may also benefit from switching to e-cigarettes.”

A 3rd study, in the early summer edition of JAMA's internal medicine publication, mentions the lack of substantial evidence electronic cigarettes can be involved in trying to eliminate traditional smoking all together, using a patch of nicotine as an example. However this recent study is drawing heavy fire from those in the medical field due to the claim that ecig producers are aiming their ads as cessation products, the FDA strictly forbids advertising that e-cigs are stop smoking products.

Included in a recent editorial, Dr. Michael Katz mentioned that the FDA should monitor electronic cigarettes as a nicotine delivery tool, and that electronic cigarettes should continue to be banned in locations where typical tobacco products are not allowed. “Unfortunately, the evidence on whether e-cigarettes help smokers to quit is contradictory and inconclusive,” Katz wrote. He did say he was willing to support their use if “there were good data indicating that they helped smokers to stop.” Dr. Gilbert Ross, medical and executive director of The American Council on Science and Health, said “allowing e-cigs to compete with cigarettes in the marketplace might decrease smoking-related morbidity and mortality.”

Previous reviews have found that e-cigarettes are viewed by the general public as effective strategies for quitting and reducing harm, and research suggests some smokers use e-cigarettes for cessation purposes. Physicians may be interested in continuing the e-cigarette conversation with their patients in future appointments, as advising patients to quit smoking is the most often utilized intervention. The overall scope of most current studies show that, regardless of the delay from the FDA, most physicians will recommend e-cigs as a tobacco harm reduction tool, as they would any other traditional smoking cessation.

As electronic cigarettes become more mainstream, physicians will be called on more and more to discuss the safety and effectiveness of these types of devices/products. It is extremely crucial that the FDA take in all the evidence on electronic cigarettes and deliver a clear and substantial review for not only physicians, but the general public as well in regards to them being a possible safer tobacco substitute. Most physicians seem to a similar thought process pertaining to the overall recommendations of using an e-cig as a tobacco eliminating solution – primarily giving their patients as much info as possible – good and bad – and letting them decide on their own.

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