Published on September 9th, 2016 | by Jimmy Hafrey
There is a massive push to urge doctors to suggest vaping to patients who smoke, and it’s a professor of tobacco addiction doing the most public urging.
Professor Ann McNeill, the Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, has written an article for Medscape that discusses why doctors in the UK and elsewhere should be actively encouraging patients to use vaping as a cessation method. The article, which can be viewed following a free signup for the site, goes through the advantages and disadvantages of using vaping, ensuring that both doctors and smokers understand both sides of the argument.
However, McNeill, who is also a Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London, is squarely in favor of vaping as a smoking cessation tool. She cites a few studies, many of which were conducted in London, that concluded that not only is vaping a better alternative to smoking, it can also help save lives by limiting the number of carcinogens a smoker would be exposed to.
The article begins by talking about the dangers that smoking presents to patients. It is commonly understood that a single cigarette, which contains over 70 different carcinogens and thousands more toxins, can cut the average smoker’s life by 11 minutes. That’s why quitting smoking is the best thing a smoker can do for their health.
In England, vaping is already known to be the most effective smoking cessation method. It is ten times more popular than any other alternative and has a growing success rate among smokers who use it to quit.
The second most popular method, going “cold turkey,” is the most likely to fail smokers.
McNeill goes on to say that because doctors are often the best source of advice for smokers, any suggestion they make for a smoke-free alternative is deemed credible by their patients. The idea that doctors could suggest vaping for their patients shouldn’t be just an idea, McNeill says: it should be pursued by all doctors.
This is because vaping is already known to be a safer alternative for nicotine delivery than smoking. Vaping products do not combust, like cigarettes, and are devoid of 95 percent of all carcinogens and toxins associated with cigarettes. It is also possible to lower the dosage of nicotine, allowing smokers to wean themselves off of the substance over time. This also leads to a greater chance of success for patients who are serious about quitting smoking.
The reasons why vaping should be suggested vary, but McNeill acknowledges that vaping closely mirrors the behaviors used by smokers. These include the act of inhaling and vape pens and mods that resemble cigarettes.
But these are not the only factors that make vaping an attractive alternative to smoking. Vapers have a wide variety of choices when it comes to their vaping needs: they can choose their flavor and nicotine level, ensuring that they find a vape experience that will replace the need for smoking. They can also choose what wattage or temperature they vape at, something that traditional cigarettes has never allowed.
McNeill goes on through the article to explain that clinicians should do their research on vaping and avoid stigmatizing this smoking alternative. While many physicians would rather their patients quit smoking and nicotine altogether, McNeill says they should be respectful of a patient’s needs and desires. It simply may not be possible for a patient to quit cold turkey, and rather than shut a patient down from ever quitting smoking, a clinician should open the door to vaping as a smoking alternative.
There is, however, one may issue with vaping: there aren’t enough studies highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of using it as an alternative to smoking. New studies are being done, as we have reported before, but for now, the majority of studies are showing that it is a better alternative, although the specifics are not quite clear yet.
But because the majority of studies point to vaping being superior to smoking, clinicians should seriously consider it as a way to move their patients who smoke away from traditional cigarettes. The US and EU regulations may help with this, as it will put vaping in a legal context and under strict government rules.
For now, McNeill suggests that doctors research vaping for themselves. By educating themselves on the advantages of vaping, doctors will be in a better position to help their patients quit smoking.