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Dr. Aaron Chidekel Testifies in Support of House Bill 5

Tuesday, Apr 7, 2015

Delaware Valley

Good Afternoon and thank you, Chairman Barbieri and members of the House Health and Human Development Committee. My name is Dr. Aaron Chidekel and I am the chief of pediatric pulmonary medicine at the Nemours/AI duPont Hospital for Children. I am here today to speak in support of House Bill 5, which adds electronic cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act and prohibits their use in public spaces.

As a pediatric pulmonologist, I have written and educated extensively about the well known, irrefutable and diverse harms of secondhand smoke exposure in children. When I served as the president of the Delaware Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics we collaborated with and gave our full support to Governor Minner and the General Assembly in passing one of the first comprehensive Clean Indoor Acts in the Nation.

The Clean Indoor Air Act literally freed so many of my patients from the harmful effects of public space exposure to secondhand smoke and served to promote a strong anti-tobacco message. This Act at the time was courageous and forward thinking and was truly on the cutting edge of public health promotion.

It has often been said that nicotine addiction is a childhood disease with adult consequences. Indeed, up to 90% of current cigarette smokers, who are addicted to nicotine, began to smoke prior to their 18th birthday. This is why the prevention of nicotine addiction, in whatever form it may take, is relevant and critical to those of us in pediatric medicine.

Electronic cigarettes are a new technology whose main purpose is to deliver nicotine to the brain. They are a huge business and represent a new product line for big tobacco. Electronic cigarettes, or E-cigs, are specifically designed to be used in a similar fashion to the tobacco cigarettes peddled by these same tobacco companies (merchants of death and disease), and are supposed to have the same look and feel as combustible tobacco.

There are at least three main concerns about electronic cigarettes that are highly relevant to a pediatric lung specialist. The first has to do with our mission to prevent nicotine addiction in our pediatric patients. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. We need to minimize the potential for the next generation of big tobacco’s customers to become hooked on nicotine containing products in any form.

The second area of concern involves the electronic cigarette as a device that has the look and feel of smoking and which may serve to entice youth to experiment with and become regular users of combustible tobacco cigarettes. It is well known that cigarette smoking at one time was presented to youth as normative or even attractive or sexy behavior. We must not allow this to happen again with electronic cigarettes.

The third concern has to do with the secondhand smoke or vapor generated by electronic cigarettes, which is not simply water vapor. In fact a growing body of scientific research is raising concerns about the presence of toxic components of this vapor. Chemicals such as propylene glycol and even formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen, have been found in secondhand electronic cigarette smoke or vapor.

As a pediatrician, a lung doctor and a parent of three teen aged children, it is only natural for me to come here today to advocate for the strict regulation of electronic cigarettes. As one of the first states in the nation to pass a robust, comprehensive and courageous Clean Indoor Air Act, the State of Delaware lived up to its name as the First State. It should continue to live up that standard and repeat that proud moment once again by banning electronic cigarettes in public spaces.  

Thank you.

About Nemours

Nemours is an internationally recognized children's health system that owns and operates the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., and Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando, along with major pediatric specialty clinics in Delaware, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Established as The Nemours Foundation through the legacy and philanthropy of Alfred I. duPont, Nemours offers pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy and prevention programs to all families in the communities it serves.