Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Nurses Get Into the Act: Smoking is No Worse than Vaping! Don't Commend Patients for Quitting Smoking Using E-Cigarettes

Apparently, irresponsible medical advice being given to smokers about quitting is not restricted to physicians. Nurses are getting in on the act and publicly making the most reckless medical recommendations to smokers. Two egregious examples highlight the incompetent and ill-considered information being disseminated to the public in the nursing literature.

1. Smoking is No Worse than Vaping

According to an article in the current issue of the journal Nursing, two instructors at the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies claim that smoking may be no more hazardous than vaping. According to the article:

"Because e-cigarettes don't contain tobacco, they're purported to be “less toxic” than traditional tobacco products, but the lack of long-term research and the variability among available products makes this claim unsubstantiated to date."

This is complete nonsense. There is abundant evidence that vaping is much safer than smoking. Even the most ardent opponents of vaping agree that although not absolutely safe, vaping is much safer than smoking. There is abundant research which demonstrates this. But it is also common sense, as electronic cigarettes contain no tobacco and do not involve combustion. How could they be as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes, which we know kill more than 400,000 Americans each year? There is no legitimate scientific dispute over the fact that vaping is much safer than smoking.

Spreading this kind of misinformation demonstrates both incompetency and a lack of responsibility. Medical practitioners should not be disseminating false health information, especially about something so important as the severe hazards of smoking. To undermine the public's appreciation of the severity of smoking's hazards by comparing real cigarettes to fake ones is doing a huge disservice to the public and to smokers in particular. 
2. Smokers Who Quit Using E-Cigarettes Should Not be Commended

According to an article in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, nurses discourage patients who smoke from trying to quit using e-cigarettes and furthermore, they should not commend patients who have already quit smoking using e-cigarettes!

According to the article: "Currently, it is neither advisable for practitioners to recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, nor is it recommended to commend patients for making the switch to e-cigarette use over traditional cigarette smoking."

It is certainly inappropriate medical advice to discourage smokers from using e-cigarettes in a quit attempt, especially if they are highly motivated about the idea of e-cigarettes and have not had success with traditional approaches. But it is insane to recommend that nurses not commend patients who have successfully quit smoking just because they happened to achieve success using e-cigarettes.

Have we completely lost our mind? 

I just cannot understand how a nurse could possibly be advised not to commend a patient who successfully quit smoking. It is an amazing accomplishment and the patient deserves the highest commendation for such an achievement. To withhold such a commendation simply because you don't happen to like the methods the patient used is, frankly, sick. It suggests that the health of the patient doesn't matter. What matters is that the patient quits the way this particular nurse thinks is best.

It would be one thing to suggest that nurses caution smokers that e-cigarettes are not effective for everyone. But if a smoker has tried e-cigarettes and succeeded in quitting smoking, then what is there not to like? What is the problem with that? I'd call that a public health miracle. 

It is like a spit in the face to the estimated two million Americans who have successfully quit smoking using electronic cigarettes.

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