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Crystal Vapor in La Cañada offers a smoking alternative

Crystal Galbraith sucks on a device that resembles a bulky pen, blowing out smoke-like clouds of vapor behind a counter.

Inside the new electronic cigarette store on Foothill Boulevard that the 30-year-old co-owns, “vaping” is a regular activity for both employees and customers.

Galbraith, along with her father, Romie Galbraith, opened Crystal Vapor one month ago and said sales have been good. A typical starter kit that includes the device with a battery, atomizer, and juice runs for around $65 with tax. Customers can also buy parts for their existing device in an array of colors and sizes.

Crystal Galbraith, an environmental activist who was on the Animal Planet reality show “Whale Wars,” said she is passionate about helping people quit smoking or find a healthier alternative.

“I am really in this to help people,” she said. “I want to save people’s lives.”

An e-cigarette uses a battery and an atomizer to turn a liquid blend of nicotine, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and artificial or natural flavors into a vapor. Juices are sold with various levels of nicotine, and some contain none.

Flavors range from strawberry lemonade to butterscotch. The store also sells special blends such as Crystalosophy, named after the co-owner, which is a top seller.

The Galbraiths said they wanted the store to feel different from other e-cigarette stores in the region. They commissioned a graffiti artist to paint a large, psychedelic mural on the back wall and decorated the space with clear bar stools and red couches. A vending machine in the store allows customers to pick up refill juice on the go. Dance music plays in the background. The result is a store that feels more like a lounge than a shop that offers an alternative to cigarettes.

In September, a revised smoking law takes effect across La Cañada Flintridge. The law bans smoking within 20 feet of city-owned property, outdoor dining areas, shopping centers and public events.

But the law excludes e-cigarettes, allowing for Crystal Vapor and other shops to cater to residents who may want to smoke in public.

Romie Galbraith said he quit smoking 20 years ago and uses juices without nicotine. But he has seen the device change heavy smokers.

“I’ve seen people in three months go from a pack and half of cigarettes a day to just smoking one of these,” he said. “This is so much healthier than a cigarette.”

Crystal Vapor is located at 2259 Foothill Blvd. Call (818) 248-2200 for more information.

Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

Proprietors say vapor e-cigarettes are healthier than the real thing.

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