Why aren’t doctors fully supporting e-cigarettes?
People who use e-cigarettes have been found to contain around 97% less cancer causing chemicals in their bodies, the active ingredient nicotine, is not carcinogenic.
So why aren’t doctors prescribing them as a treatment for nicotine addiction?
People who use e-cigarettes and sometimes “slip up” to have a cigarette are found to have similar levels of cancer causing chemicals as a normal smoker.
Many people don’t smoke because they’re reliant on nicotine but because of their social environment.
To truly overcome their smoking habit, they must mix up where they spend their time and even who they spend it with (e.g. going to bars instead of your local pub).
For people who are “Social smokers”, e-cigarettes could result in them worsening their chemical reliance to nicotine.
However, even though e-cigarettes have higher concentrations of nicotine in, they’re absorbed in the upper airways, not deep in the lungs like cigarettes, so actually deliver less nicotine to your bloodstream.
Some may argue that “E-cigarettes look interesting and have fun flavours, making them appealing to children.”
Fortunately, this is based on observation and a recent study has disproved this, the findings were that most users of E-cigarettes had smoked beforehand.
A chemical called diacetyl is present in many of the e-cigarettes liquids (especially the candy flavourings) that is associated with a condition called popcorn lung, an irreversible scaring and obliteration of the air sacs of the lung.
There’s no evidence to support that the amount of diacetyl in the e-cigarettes is enough to cause the condition but it’s a risk.
The bottom line is the reason doctors don’t fully support e-cigarettes is that the long-term effects need to be studied because e-cigarettes only really became widely used in 2012.
As it stands now, research looks positive but e-cigarettes are only showing to be equal to vaporisers and patches in helping people quit.
The NHS and Cancer research still advise using the free stop smoking service. Over half the people who began were shown to have managed to quit at a one month catch up.
Sam Fitzpatrick Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
Shahab, L., Goniewicz, M., Blount, B., Brown, J., McNeill, A., Alwis, K. and Feng, J. et al. 2017. Nicotine, Carcinogen, and Toxin Exposure in Long-Term E-Cigarette and Nicotine Replacement Therapy Users. Annals of Internal Medicine 166(6), p. 390.
Bauld, L., Bell, K., McCullough, L., Richardson, L. and Greaves, L. 2009. The effectiveness of NHS smoking cessation services: a systematic review. Journal of Public Health 32(1), pp. 71-82.
International Agency for Research on Cancer 2012. A Review of Human Carcinogens: Personal Habits and Indoor Combustions
Professor John Britton and Dr Ilze Bogdanovica 2014. Electronic cigarettes, a report commissioned by public health England
Linda Bauld, Anne Marie MacKintosh et al 2017. Young People’s Use of E-Cigarettes across the United Kingdom: Findings from Five Surveys 2015–2017. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 973; doi:10.3390/ijerph14090973