In 2013, Deputy Cranford took to the television to spread a bit of fear about vaping being used as a vehicle for taking illegal drugs, feeding in to the public fear of harm reduction and the anti-vape agenda being touted across California.
Such actions eventually begat a 2015 law that banned free samples in shops, raised the age of use to 21 and restricted where people could vape – banning vaping from beaches of all places.
It hit vendors in the pocket as sales dropped, in some cases by 25%. Lacey Miller, owner of The Vapour Lounge in Rancho Cucamonga, was optimistic and considered: “I think in the long run it will be OK.”
In a way she was correct, from 2013 to 2016 the number of stores selling vape products in Los Angeles County soared by 34 percent, but the growth was more limited in Orange County. Now in nearby San Francisco flavoured eliquids are banned and legislators are considering following suit.
All of a sudden, faced with the reality of the situation, common sense has broken out in the Orange County police department. Sparked by the proposal to restrict the nicotine content of tobacco cigarettes, Special Agent Alan Wayne Barcelona has penned an open letter.
Barcelona fears that the proposals will combine with the war on vaping to promote black market sales of illegal tobacco products. On behalf of the Orange County Coalition of Police and Sheriffs, he points out that there isn’t a product on the market that meets the suggested restrictions.
He writes: “Effectively banning the products … without giving smokers more alternative, less harmful [vaping products] will create demand for black market products, and result in increased trafficking, crime, and other illegal activity.”
Time will tell if anybody is listening – and if Lacey Miller’s optimism bears fruit.