Tag-Team Against Cheap Smokes

Anti-tobacco & big tobacco team up to deny inexpensive, roll-your-own cigarettes to consumers

The lawmakers of America have done as both big tobacco and anti-tobacco (talk about strange bedfellows) demanded and banned citizens from purchasing machine-rolled tobacco cartons.

The Tobacco Outlet(s) in Nanuet and West Haverstraw, as well as others in Rockland County, will no longer be able to sell tobacco from their roll-your-own tobacco machines, come this Friday, July 6, as Congress has passed a new law that prohibits their Quick Draw Tobacco Machines.

Due to the language of a tobacco law passed in 2009, the “loose tobacco” store-rolled cigarettes were subject to less in tax and cost only around $40 per carton. As such, the all-natural tobacco products were gaining in popularity around the country and especially in New York, where dozens opened in the last year alone including at least three in Rockland County.

Roll-your-owners are not going down without a fight. Some activists are pushing for a repeal to the law, which was absurdly attached, by Montana Senator Max Baucus, onto a transportation bill currently awaiting President Obama’s signature.

George Renome of taxtracker.com wrote a letter to Obama asking for him to reconsider the bill and not allow it to pass.

“Congress certainly has the authority to regulate commerce, but it does not have the right to arbitrarily grant monopolies to certain industries by making the practices of smaller competition illegal by virtue of setting the bar for entrance into the marketplace unnecessarily high. This is exactly what Congress did by inserting language arbitrarily and immediately reclassifying small retail tobacco shops as ‘manufacturers’ if they provide services allowing customers to roll their own tobacco cigarettes. This reclassification, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will force the immediate closure of more than 1,000 small businesses across the United States.”

In Rockland, signs at the Nanuet store indicate they will remain open, but that the roll-your-own machines will soon be gone. According to an employee at the Nanuet location who asked to remain anonymous, they believe that some time on Friday they will have to stop selling the tobacco from those machines, but they are not certain.

The owner, when approached, said he had no comment for the Rockland County Times.

The new law passed is part of the Federal Transportation Funding Act, also known as the Highway Bill, where one part, (Sec. 100122) “Roll-Your-Own Cigarette Machines,” has been changed to now read: “Such term shall include any person who for commercial purposes makes available for consumer use… a machine capable of making cigarettes, cigars, or other tobacco products. A person making such a machine available for consumer use shall be deemed the person making the removal as defined by subsection (j) with respect to any tobacco products manufactured by such machine. A person who sells a machine directly to a consumer at retail for a consumer’s personal home use is not making a machine available for commercial purposes if such machine is not used at a retail premises and is designed to produce tobacco products only in personal use quantities.”

In other words stores can no longer sell the cartons of all-natural machine-rolled cigarettes, but consumers can buy their own machines and make cigarettes at home. Of course, the roll-your-own machines that produce a carton in under 10 minutes are quite large, however there are smaller machines that can produce cigarettes in less time.

According to the Quick Draw Machine’s website, the QuickDraw Batch Processing has been shut down as of June 30. They will not be buying back any machines or accepting returns on parts. In order to request reloads, you must provide SAM Manufacturing with written proof that you have a permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau that permits you to manufacture cigarettes or you must demonstrate that you have achieved non-profit status and have a written declaration that the QuickDraw Express machine in your possession is for non-commercial purposes only.

The note on their website from Paul Yanachik, the president of SAM Manufacturing, said “We are disappointed in the recent legislative initiative to limit our business model, and hope that many of you successfully transition into permitted manufacturers under the new law.”