Doctors and Medics Nicotine Misperceptions

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Do our medical professionals have a clear understanding of safer forms of nicotine use? Does it depend on their studied curriculum and their ongoing interest in 'keeping up to date' especially with the competing demands on their time? Bullen, Walker & Lucas discuss that here Using a videotaped objective structured clinical examination to assess Knowledge In Smoking cessation amongst medical Students (the K.I.S.S. Study) Arguably, it could be said that a significant number of Health Professionals are no better informed than the general public.


2020 Nicotine Risk Misperception Among US Physicians

  • Most tobacco-caused disease is not directly caused by nicotine, but rather by other chemicals present in tobacco smoke. Despite this, many misperceive nicotine as responsible for smoking-related health risks, like cancer. Overall, the majority of physicians “strongly agreed” that nicotine directly contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease (83.2%), COPD (80.9%), and cancer (80.5%).
  • Citation: Steinberg, M. B., Bover Manderski, M. T., Wackowski, O. A., Singh, B., Strasser, A. A., & Delnevo, C. D. (2020). Nicotine Risk Misperception Among US Physicians. Journal of General Internal Medicine. doi:10.1007/s11606-020-06172-8
  • Acknowledgement: This work was supported by grant 1R01CA190444-01A1 from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Additionally, CDD, OAW, and AAS were supported by Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science award U54CA229973 from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

2007 Nurses' knowledge about the risk of light cigarettes and other tobacco "harm reduction" strategies

  • One conclusion that may be drawn from the present study is that nurses appear to need additional education regarding reduced risk products. Nurse beliefs about nicotine replacement may make them less likely to recommend these products to their patients. For example, only 28% of nurses correctly believed that the nicotine patch did not cause heart attacks, and almost 59% stated that nicotine is a cause of cancer.
  • Our data indicate that, although nurses are in an ideal position to motivate people who smoke to quit or to assist them with quitting, their knowledge about the risks of smoking and how harm can be reduced may not be accurate.
  • PDF Version
  • Citation: Borrelli B, Novak SP. Nurses' knowledge about the risk of light cigarettes and other tobacco "harm reduction" strategies. Nicotine Tob Res. 2007 Jun;9(6):653-61. doi: 10.1080/14622200701365202. PMID: 17558822.

News & Press Releases

2020 Majority of Surveyed Doctors Misattribute Tobacco Harms to Nicotine

  • "Government fearmongering and crackdowns on nicotine vaping products have likely contributed to widespread ignorance about the difference between the harms of tobacco and nicotine."

2020 Rutgers-Led National Survey Uncovers Doctors' Misconceptions About Nicotine Risks

  • "Most physicians mistakenly believe that nicotine leads to cancer, and heart and respiratory diseases, according to a Rutgers-led national survey, even though it is the toxic substances in cigarette smoke and not the nicotine that causes the primary health risk."

2020 National survey uncovers doctors' misconceptions about nicotine risks

  • "According to a Rutgers-led national survey, most doctors misperceive the risks of nicotine"

2020 US Survey Reveals Doctors’ Misconceptions About Nicotine Risks

  • "A national US survey published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, sadly indicated that most local doctors are misinformed about the risks of nicotine."

2013 ‘GPs falsley believe nicotine most harmful cigarette ingredient’

  • A survey of GPs has revealed some falsely believe one of the greatest health risks from smoking is nicotine.


2018 Confused Doctors

  • “Although we have evidence to show that e-cigarettes are a substantially less harmful alternative to smoking tobacco for cancer patients, this survey highlights that not all health professionals know this. They are unsure how to talk to cancer patients who smoke about e-cigarettes. It also suggests that doctors and nurses need better information and clearer policies to guide their discussions with patients.”

Studies to analyze for possible inclusion to this page

NOTE - we need to start a page on the public's misperceptions on safer nicotine, similar to this page for medical professionals. Some of the studies list below would fit better on the public's page vs. medical professionals.

Ecigarettes and Primary Care

E-cigarettes as a Smoking Cessation aid in Cancer Patients: Health Professionals knowledge, attitude and current practice

GPs’ and nurses’ perceptions of electronic cigarettes in England: a qualitative interview study

A survey evaluating healthcare professionals’ knowledge and perceptions of electronic cigarettes

Perceived relative harm of electronic cigarettes over time and impact on subsequent use. A survey with 1-year and 2-year follow-ups

Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018: executive summary

Health professionals in Flanders perceive the potential health risks of vaping as lower than those of smoking but do not recommend using e-cigarettes to their smoking patients

Communicating the relative health risks of E-cigarettes: An online experimental study exploring the effects of a comparative health message versus the EU nicotine addiction warnings on smokers’ and non-smokers’ risk perceptions and behavioural intentions

The War on Nicotine Pits Prejudice Against Public Health

Nicotine Itself Isn't The Real Villain

Nicotine “no more harmful to health than caffeine”

More Information

  • Please see the categories below