Methods: An anonymous online questionnaire was sent to all residents, fellows and faculty in the departments of internal medicine and surgery at Saint Louis University.
Results: We received 114 responses (51%). 57 % of respondents knew what “vaping” meant. 9% reported being “very familiar” with e-cigarettes, while 26 % reported no familiarity. 15% of physicians would advise e-cigarettes as nicotine replacement therapy, if asked by patients. 91% were aware of the nicotine content of e-cigarettes, but seem to be unaware of the presence of carcinogens (19%) and polyethylene glycol (38%). Lack of evidence regarding long-term safety (76%), e-cigarettes as starter products for nonsmokers (50%), absence of FDA regulations (51%) and marketing to youth (42%) were major concerns. Stricter regulations (54%), warning labels similar to tobacco products (53%), restricting advertising (36%), banning sales to minors (34%) and banning use in public spaces (25%) were favored as regulatory measures. 50% of physicians see a role for e-cigarettes as part of "harm reduction strategy”. Training and familiarity showed no significant correlation.
Conclusions: Further research is needed to assess whether e-cigarettes could be an effective smoking cessation tool. There is an apparent knowledge gap among physicians and an urgent need for evidence based guidelines to aid with advising smokers enquiring about e-cigarettes.