Amidst the mounting evidence highlighting the significant negative health impact of vaping, doctors are increasingly cautioning against the use of e-cigarettes, even as a means to quit smoking.
Dr Petros Levounis, President of the American Psychiatric Association and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School asserts that for current smokers, there are powerful, safe, and FDA-approved interventions available.
Recent medical guidelines from the American College of Cardiology, released in July, strongly discourage the use of e-cigarettes, particularly in individuals with chronic heart disease.
Dr Naomi Hamburg, a Cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at Boston University, highlights that even in young people, e-cigarettes have been shown to raise heart rate, and blood pressure, and disrupt blood vessel relaxation. Opting for a proven safe alternative is highly recommended.
While the FDA acknowledges that e-cigarettes may contain fewer harmful chemicals than traditional cigarettes, it maintains that no tobacco products are deemed safe.
Dr Jason Rose, a pulmonary and critical care physician, as well as an associate professor of medicine and associate dean for innovation and physician science at The University of Maryland School of Medicine, underscores that it is not possible to conclude that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes.
Doctors caution against a "dual use pattern," where individuals attempting to quit smoking may turn to e-cigarettes in addition to traditional cigarettes.
This practice can have a particularly harmful combined effect on blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
Frances Daniels, a parent and volunteer at Parents Against Vaping, shares the distressing story of her 17-year-old child who used e-cigarettes recreationally and ended up in the Intensive Care Unit for five weeks due to EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury).
While Daniels' child ultimately recovered without a lung transplant, the experience was agonizing.
For smoking cessation, doctors recommend sticking to FDA-approved products.
Options include Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) like patches, gum, or inhalers, as well as medications such as Bupropion or Varenicline. Combining NRTs, like the patch and gum, is often suggested.
In some cases, psychosocial options such as cognitive behavioural therapy can be beneficial.
While e-cigarettes lack FDA approval as smoking cessation tools, companies continue to seek such approval.
The FDA insists that further research is needed to establish their safety for those seeking to quit tobacco cigarettes.
In the realm of smoking cessation tools, e-cigarettes are deemed less than ideal, with safer and scientifically proven alternatives available, according to Dr Hamburg.