Sidra Ayan

A study conducted in 11 countries revealed that approximately 80% of doctors hold the misconception that nicotine causes lung cancer. This misunderstanding hinders efforts to help a billion smokers quit smoking.

The survey, supported by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW), involved 15,000 full-time doctors with at least two years of experience in countries like China, Germany, India, the United States, and others. The goal was to gather data to accelerate smoking cessation initiatives.

Despite 78% of doctors acknowledging that smoking’s harmful effects are primarily caused by tobacco and not nicotine, 73% still attribute lung, bladder, and throat cancers to nicotine. The survey indicated that 78% of doctors believe nicotine is the main cause of arterial malformations, while 77% link it to lung cancer, and 76% to lung disease, among other misconceptions.

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Interestingly, a majority of doctors in the surveyed countries expressed interest in receiving training to help patients quit smoking, with traditional methods preferred over tobacco alternatives and specific products. However, the survey showed that one in four doctors had never received any smoking cessation training, mainly due to a lack of opportunities and awareness.

Even in Pakistan, doctors share similar misconceptions about nicotine causing cancer.

A survey by the Alternative Research Initiative (ARI) found that 70% of doctors strongly agreed and 17.9% somewhat agreed that nicotine causes cancer. The majority attributed heart disease, lung disease, and birth defects to nicotine.

While 73.2% of trained doctors associated nicotine with cancer, 82.1% linked it to heart disease, 64.3% to birth defects, and 89.3% to lung disease.

Similarly, among untrained doctors, 64.4% identified nicotine as a major cause of cancer, 79.4% of heart disease, 61.2% of birth defects, and 80.1% of lung disease.