Introduction Electronic cigarettes (EC) are currently the preferred nicotine replacement product to support tobacco smoking quit attempts. Despite the potential harm reduction associated with EC, their use remains controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate doctors’ knowledge and perceptions of NRT and EC.
Methods An online and paper survey was distributed to healthcare professionals working within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde from 3rd to 19th October 2017.
Results 2291 healthcare professionals completed the survey of which 338 were completed by doctors and were included in this analysis. Out of these, 83.2% (n=281) regularly see patients who smoke tobacco cigarettes. When asked the question ‘Do you think EC are a good thing?’, 30.2% (n=102) disagreed; 31.3% (n=106) agreed and 38.5% (n=130) remained neutral. The majority of doctors perceived that nicotine replacement patches (NRP) and EC were less harmful in comparison to tobacco smoking (NRP 97.3%, n=329; EC 83.4%, n=282). 53.3% (n=180) of doctors said they would recommend EC as a method to stop smoking, while 46.7% (n=158) would not. 65.5% (n=222) of doctors agreed that they did not feel confident about advising patients regarding EC use and 76.1% (n=257) felt that they required more information and guidance.
Conclusions Whilst the majority of doctors perceived EC as a safer alternative to tobacco smoking there is a discrepancy between their perceptions and what they would clinically recommend to patients. Our data highlight that in the context of smoking cessation and the unknown long-term health effects from EC exposure, doctors may benefit from having access to medical evidence and latest recommendations regarding EC.