80 percent of doctors in the US believe the nicotine causes cancer, according to a Rutgers University study.
The survey of 1,020 doctors from six specialities revealed that most believed that nicotine was the leading cause of three common conditions, rather than the toxic substances in tobacco smoke.
When asked about heart disease, 83 percent strongly believed that nicotine was directly linked to the condition and 81 percent thought it contributed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Michael B. Steinberg, medical director of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies and a professor and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said:
“Physicians must understand the actual risk of nicotine use as they are critical in the prescription and recommendation of FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy products to help patients who use other dangerous forms of tobacco.
“Doctors should be able to accurately communicate these risks, which may include low-nicotine cigarettes, which are not safer than traditional cigarettes.”
The researchers suggested that a communications initiative could help correct the misperceptions so that doctors can better assist patients addicted to more harmful tobacco products.
The CDC estimates that more than 34 million Americans continue to smoke despite the risks and alternatives available, such as e-cigarettes.
The health body states that e-cigarettes ‘have the potential to benefit adults who smoke and who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.’
However, government authorities, health charities and anti-tobacco groups remain hostile towards vaping.
Cristine Delnevo, director of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies and professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health, said:
“Correcting misperceptions in medicine should be a priority given the FDA’s proposed nicotine-centered framework that includes reducing nicotine content in cigarettes to non-addictive levels while encouraging safer forms of nicotine like NRT, to help with smoking cessation or non-combustible tobacco, like smokeless tobacco for harm reduction”