For smokers who bargained on roll-your-own cigarette stores for cheap smokes, it looks like those days are numbered. On Friday, President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law a federal highway bill with a section that redefines tobacco manufacturers to include any business with a roll-your-own cigarette machine and taxes those products at the same rate as packaged smokes.
The move comes a month after Illinois increased taxes on such roll-your-own machine-made cigarettes.
Marcia Smith, 47, of Lake County, decided after the state tax increase that she should move her Smokes & Such tobacco shops in Skokie and Gurnee to Wisconsin, where taxes on rolled cigarettes are lower.
If Obama signs the law, she said she’ll shut her doors.
The machines, which cost about $33,000 each, allow customers to pick their own tobacco and pour it into a device that can roll the tobacco into a carton, or about 200 cigarettes, within minutes.
Since 2009, RYO stores have been selling cigarettes with far lower taxes than packaged cigarettes.
Why? In 2009, Congress more than doubled the federal excise tax on cigarettes, and, to bring RYO tobacco in line with packaged smokes, raised the tax on RYO tobacco from $1.10 a pound to $24.78 a pound. Yet it raised the tax on pipe tobacco by a far smaller amount — from $1.10 to $2.83 a pound.
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Just goes to show that it's the government that is in the tobacco business and not private industry. Yet another alternative is the electronic cigarettes. I have tried them and they really are pretty good alternatives. But they are restricted in many areas just like cigarettes despite what any of the ads might say.
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