Defining the role of the physical therapist in addressing vaping and smoking cessation

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The use of electronic or e-cigarettes, commonly referred to as vaping, has markedly increased in recent years. Vaping devices were initially introduced to promote smoking cessation in the chronic adult smoker as a less harmful substitute for combustible cigarettes. However, they have significantly expanded in popularity with youth, creating a global health crisis. Broadly, 2 populations of individuals are noted to vape: the chronic smoker attempting to quit and young teenagers who are lured into using these devices. Recent evidence indicates an outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury and other physiological disturbances that may be particularly harmful to patients and clients. Many physical therapists are currently unaware of the physiological effects of e-cigarettes and lack the knowledge and confidence needed to provide cessation recommendations at the individual and community levels. This lack of awareness also hampers the assessment of physiological responses, appropriate modifications to the plan of care, and referral for interprofessional consultation when indicated. The purpose of this perspective article is to provide recent updates to educate physical therapists and physical therapist assistants about e-cigarettes and relevant implications for patient care. The article reports the growing prevalence of e-cigarette use as a public health crisis, the pathophysiological impact of vaping on various body systems, and the unique role physical therapists and physical therapist assistants can play in successfully engaging in e-cigarette cessation interventions. The authors suggest a targeted 5-step Verify, Assess, Plan, Educate, and Refer approach that can be utilized by physical therapists in addressing vaping and smoking cessation. Finally, the article discusses opportunities for incorporating these strategies into physical therapist education and offers avenues for future research and practice.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal
StatePublished - Mar 22 2022


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