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PLoS One. 2017 Feb 24;12(2):e0172568. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172568. eCollection 2017.

Lung cancer specialist physicians' attitudes towards e-cigarettes: A nationwide survey.

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Department of Family Medicine & Health Promotion Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Cancer Survivorship Clinic, Seoul National University Cancer Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Chungnam National University School of Medicine, Daejeon, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul St. Mary Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, lnha University Hospital, Inha University College of Medicine, Incheon, Korea.
Department of Radiology, Chung-Ang University Medical Center, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, Chonnam National University Medical School, Hwasun, Korea.
Medical Correspondent & Social Policy Desk, Donga-A Ilbo, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Incheon, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Wonkwang University College of Medicine, Iksan, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Wonju College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Wonju, Korea.
Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, St. Vincent's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Suwon, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Kosin University Medical College, Pusan, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Konyang University Hospital, Daejeon, Korea.



Despite a sharp increase in e-cigarette use, there is debate about whether e-cigarettes are a viable alternative for harm reduction, and the forms that regulation should take. Healthcare providers can be effective in offering guidance to patients and their families and shaping regulatory policy. We described lung cancer specialists' attitudes toward e-cigarettes and its regulation.


We undertook a nationwide survey of pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, medical and radiological oncologists who are members of Korean Association for Lung Cancer. Survey items included beliefs and attitudes toward e-cigarettes, attitudes toward e-cigarette regulation and preparedness on discussing e-cigarettes with their patients.


Most respondents believed that e-cigarettes are not safer than conventional tobacco cigarettes (75.7%) or smokeless tobacco (83.2%), and feared that discussing e-cigarettes with the patients would encourage use (65.4%). They did not consider it a smoking cessation treatment (78.3%), and thus would not recommend it to smokers who do not want to quit (82.2%) or who failed to quit with conventional smoking cessation treatment (74.1%). Most respondents supported all examples of e-cigarette regulations, including the safety and quality check (97.8%), warning label (97.8%), advertisement ban (95.1%), restriction of flavoring (78.4%), minimum purchasing age (99.5%), and restriction of indoor use (94.6%). Most learned about e-cigarettes from media and advertisements, or conversation with patients rather than through professional scientific resources, and reported discomfort when discussing e-cigarette with patients.


Lung cancer specialist physicians in Korea doubt the safety of e-cigarette and use of e-cigarette as smoking cessation treatment, and supported strict regulation. However, only 20% reported that they obtained information on e-cigarettes from the scientific literature and many lacked adequate knowledge based on scientific evidence, suggesting the need for better preparedness. Nevertheless, the views of professionals revealed from our study could help to develop clinical guidelines and regulatory guidance.

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