For the most part, store owners in the tobacco business of selling cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia in Pinellas County are closed-visible when it comes to weighing in on the conflict over synthetic drugs. That’s not to say they don’t have an opinion. Some find any problem with the tobacco products. They sell legal smoking products, sent to as “herbal pleasant” or with careful rejections: synthetic marijuana won’t displace the therapeutic properties of real cannabis; the tobacco products shouldn’t be mixed with prescription drugs with which you can’t have alcohol.
Many showed frustration at the invariable changes in the regulations that force them to clear their shelves of tobacco products, as they are declared unlawful. Some wish state authorities wouldn’t control the products at all, declaring that every new attempt to prohibit the drugs has ended in gradually more dangerous smoke products and a more harmful black tobacco market.
Some have seen the damaging effect of the tobacco products and stop selling them, even before a list of chemical ingredients known as “bath salts” were prohibited in Florida, back in January 2011, and before a prohibition on synthetic marijuana became state ordinance in March.
“We just don’t like them,” one smoke store manager argued of the smokes products without elaborating.
But those to whom Tampa Bay Newspapers spoke in a study of local smokes stores reported that the nature of their business dictates that they avoid paying attention to themselves. Convenience shop owners went silent without much explanation at all, most with a denied look of horror at the question as to whether they sold Spice, K2 or their synthetic-drug cousins that are still legal.