Flavored e-cigarettes not the best method for kicking the habit

WASHINGTON – Mango, Cheesecake and Chocolate aren’t just ice cream flavors; they’re also e-cigarette flavors. And parents may have to dig deeper into the lives of their children to know whether they’re experimenting with them.

Maryland is one of several states that has banned minors from buying e-cigarettes. That restriction went into effect in October 2012, but the flavored vapor-producing devices are popular with kids.

Some manufacturers say electronic cigarettes help smokers kick the habit. But that’s not what the people answering Maryland’s QuitLine are hearing. The recent federal report that finds that kids are reaching for e-cigarettes touches off alarms. And health advocates worry about users of all ages.

“The flavored products take away that burn or the unpleasant taste,” says Dr. Donald Shell with the Maryland Department of Health And Mental Hygiene. And the devices don’t create an odor like cigarettes. “A parent will never know if their child is using an electronic device because you won’t be able to smell it,” he says.

“We find that people who use electronic cigarettes are much less successful in quitting their nicotine addiction,” Dr. Shell says, adding that the information is anecdotal and that more study is needed.

“We think that the individuals that are quitting without the electronic cigarettes are really being able to adjust their bodies to no longer be subject to the nicotine addiction. When you use an electronic cigarette, you’re getting straight nicotine. Your body never makes the adjustment to be nicotine-free,” he says.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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