Electronic cigarettes, smoking cessation and tobacco harm reduction; views of a student dental team

Francesca White, Jo-Anne Taylor, Marina Harris, Sara Jane Helen Holmes

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Introduction: Electronic cigarettes are a relatively new phenomenon whose popularity is growing rapidly. Dental patients are asking their healthcare providers for information about their use in smoking cessation. Despite confusing and scant evidence on safety, it has been claimed that electronic cigarettes might be the most promising product for tobacco harm reduction to date because they deliver nicotine without combustion, which is responsible for nearly all of the damaging effects caused by smoking.

Aims: To understand a student dental team’s current knowledge and views about electronic cigarettes and to explore their experience and confidence in discussing the use of these devices for smoking cessation and tobacco harm reduction.

Method: An online survey was designed and directed at a sample of undergraduate dental hygiene therapy students and dental students selected from a British university.

Results: Almost three quarters of student clinicians surveyed had already treated a patient who uses electronic cigarettes. Encouragingly, students recognise the value of smoking cessation, but knowledge of tobacco harm reduction policies was low. In total 94% felt under prepared to discuss electronic cigarettes as a possible therapy and report low confidence in managing patients who use them. A total of 89% felt they would benefit from further training.

Conclusions: It is important that the dental team can confidently provide appropriate, evidence based smoking cessation advice, keep patients informed and encourage tobacco harm reduction. This small scale primary care student project provides insight into current knowledge and has enabled recommendations for curriculum enhancement and future practice to be made.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationAnnual Clinical Journal of Dental Health
PublisherBritish Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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