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Bill Could Put Tax On 'Roll-Your-Own' Cigarettes

January 24, 2012, 6:05 PM by Brady Mallory

Bill Could Put Tax On 'Roll-Your-Own' Cigarettes
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Another effort to snuff out smoking could cost tobacco shops more money.

House Bill 1138 would require anyone who maintains or provides roll-your-own cigarette machines at retail stores to declare themselves cigarette manufacturers.

26th St. Tobacco Outlet manager Jada Pyper disagrees with the bill because she said her role in manufacturing cigarettes is pretty limited.

"I would grab the tobacco out of one of our bins depending on what flavor of tobacco they wanted and then load the tubes in the cartridge," Pyper said.

When it comes to actually making the cigarette, pouring the tobacco into the machine, loading the cartridge of cigarette papers, or tubes, and turning the machine on is up to the customer.

A big reason why Pyper disagrees with this legislation is the fact that her shop does not produce cigarettes to sell, just the ingredients.  Plus, she said the cigarettes that come out of the machine at the store are no different  than ones customers could roll at home.

"It's like going to the store and buying coffee beans. You can buy them already ground or you can buy the beans and use their grinder. It doesn't make you a coffee manufacturer," Pyper said.

According to Republican Representative Charlie Hoffman that is still enough for a tobacco shop to be considered a manufacturer.  He said the bill is more about the bulk tobacco you can buy than it is the machine.

"What happens today is all of this bulk tobacco is going way under the radar and being taxed only about one-tenth of what it should be. It's a sin tax and should be equal to rolled and manufactured tobacco," Hoffman said.

If you ask for Pyper's unfiltered opinion, she will tell you the bill should go up in smoke.

"It's always been one thing after another. Tobacco kills, well, so does over-eating, so does alcohol. Why is it always this one thing they're attacking," Pyper said.

The 26th Street Tobacco Outlet charges a total of $25 for the tobacco, tubes, a container and use of the machine. One session with this machine makes about 200 cigarettes. If taxes go up, the price for customers would double. Hoffman said that is the point of the bill.

"The higher the tax we put on cigarettes, I think the lower the chance of people using it," Hoffman said.

Hoffman said it is unclear at this point how the bill would affect tobacco stores that sell bulk tobacco, but do not offer a roll-your-own cigarette machine.

As for Pyper, she along with other store employees and customers plan to lobby against this bill.

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