Canadian physicians appear to be ill-prepared when it comes to discussing the variety of alternatives available to help smokers quit according to a survey conducted for the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC) by Research Co. Only 25 per cent of the 456 physicians surveyed recommended electronic nicotine-delivery systems (ENDS), such as vaping devices and electronic cigarettes, within the past year even though 63 per cent believe them to be less harmful than cigarettes.
Only 37 per cent have read research on electronic nicotine-delivery systems within the past six months and discussed it with patients (42 per cent in Western Canada and 32 per cent in Eastern Canada), 29 per cent more than six months ago (18 per cent in the West and 40 per cent in the East), while 34 per cent have not read research (40 per cent in the West and 28 per cent in the East). It’s a troubling statistic when we consider the number of people who credit these products for helping them to become smoke-free.
Over the course of the past year, only 25 per cent (29 per cent in Western Canada and 21 per cent in Eastern Canada) of physicians surveyed have recommended that patients who currently smoke tobacco products use electronic nicotine-delivery systems to help them reduce or quit their tobacco consumption while 75 per cent have not (71 per cent in the West and 79 per cent in the East).
And 63 per cent of the physicians (63 per cent in the West and 61 per cent in the East) believe that electronic nicotine-delivery systems represent a harm-reduction approach for patients who currently smoke traditional cigarettes, 26 per cent do not (21 per cent in Western Canada and 32 per cent in Eastern Canada), while 11 per cent of the physicians are not sure (15 per cent in the West and eight per cent in the East).
Vaping products are the most common type of ENDS and are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead heat up to vaporize a solution the user then inhales. The number of smokers interested in ENDS has likely increased since vaping products were legalized in 2018, but Canadian physicians are not up to speed on these products nor given any formal guidance by governments or medical associations that would help them to confidently recommend vaping as a real alternative to smoking.