Corey Feldman has been using e-cigarettes in place of old-school smokes for four years, and he says the devices have helped him stop putting carcinogenic, burned-tobacco products in his lungs.
The actor is concerned that the Los Angeles City Council acted too fast in banning e-cigarette use in places where cigarette smoking is prohibited (bars, restaurants, parks, beaches), and he wants L.A. city leaders to reconsider.
Though the science is still thin on the health effects of the electronic devices ...
... Feldman, 42, thinks that officials who are moving to regulate them, in the same way cigarette use is strictly limited, are preventing people from making a healthier choice.
He told us that he started using e-cigarettes four years ago, on Jan. 1, as part of an annual New Year's resolution to stop smoking.
The last 10 yeas of my smoking life I was trying to find a way to get out: Hypnotherapy, gum, patches, inhalants with nicotine. Nothing would work. My friend says, 'You have try this new brand, it feels like a real cigarette. The charge lasts all night.' ... I'm proud to say I have not had a hit of a regular cigarette yet.
Key among e-cigarette supporters' claims is that the devices turn a nicotine, propylene glycol and flavoring solution into a less-harmful liquid vapor that is inhaled and then exhaled.
The American Cancer Society says cigarette smoke, even secondhand smoke, can contain more than 7,000 chemicals "produced by the burning of tobacco and its additives." A 2004 Surgeon General's report says carcinogens from smoking are in the same class as those "mixtures in tar, soot, broiled foods, automobile engine exhaust, and other materials generated by incomplete combustion."
While nicotine is addictive and can be poisonous in certain doses, e-cigarette fans argue it's the burning of chemicals in cigarettes that's really bad for you, a position that has been challenged by research.
Fans of the devices think government is moving too fast at a time when research on the potential harms of vapor is still limited. Here's part of what Feldman wrote to the L.A. City Council:
You may remember my role as Teddy Duchamp in Stand By Me, but I regret the cigarette smoking image that we may have projected to kids at the time, even though the cigarettes smoked by the boys in the movie were made from cabbage leaves. Our director, Rob Reiner, an avid non-smoker who campaigned for anti-smoking laws in California, insisted on it. I wish cabbage leaves were what I smoked afterwards.
... I fear my fate may be the same as my former best friend, Corey Haim, who died of an enlarged heart, partly due to smoking three packs a day for the better part of his life. Another friend had a heart attack caused directly from ripping off a nicotine patch that wasn't working and lighting a cigarette. It was a nicotine overdose. It's the most horrible addiction. If you've never had to battle it, you may not know the struggles we go through.
E-cigs have helped thousands kick a nicotine habit that is far, far worse for their bodies, and studies suggest that they are effective at weaning people off nicotine and more effective than nicotine gum or patches.
Though the council first considered its vaping ban in December, Feldman told us he felt like the ordinance was "snuck in there when nobody was looking."
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He thinks there are a lot worse things people can be doing, especially at bars and clubs.
"It's not offensive," Feldman told us. "It doesn't harm anybody. There is no such thing as second-hand vapor."