A couple of weeks ago I was in a smoke shop with a smoker friend. I ended up conversing with the owner who told me that bureaucrats from the state of Michigan had come in earlier in the year to shut down his cigarette rolling machines. The reason? Roll-your-own was becoming big business, especially with the popularity of neighborhood smoke shops with cigarette rolling machines. The cost of buying tobacco and rolling it with the machines is approximately half of what it costs to buy the standard cigarettes. The state was losing tax booty from the self-rolled cigarettes and Big Tobacco was losing out to its budget-friendly competitiors, so earlier this year a law was passed in Michigan to make things “equal.” This is from an article on Michigan Radio:
Patrick Brazil owns the “That’s How We Roll” tobacco shop in Lansing.
Brazil also says such a law would force him out of business because he couldn’t become a manufacturer, even if he wanted to.
“The federal government doesn’t recognize us as a manufacturer, therefore we can’t get a manufacturer’s license,” Brazil says. “So when the Vendor’s Association says we can get one, they’re mistaken. We don’t qualify.”
Brazil says even if they could get a license, the 32 roll-your-own shops in Michigan would have to move out of retail-zoned areas.
One heroic smoke shop owner in Michigan is now in the business of buying and selling rolling machines for customers who want to conduct their rolling at home. Follow me on Twitter @karendecoster5:29 am on November 26, 2012 Email Karen De Coster