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Va. Senate panel sides against roll-your-own cigarette shops
The Virginian-Pilot ^ | January 25, 2012 | Julian Walker

Posted on 01/25/2012 5:31:27 PM PST by csvset


The nation’s largest cigarette maker today secured a key victory when a Senate panel voted to classify as manufacturers Virginia retailers with machines that let customers roll their own cigarettes.

Backed by several powerful lobbying allies, Philip Morris USA persuaded the Senate Finance Committee to approve a bill supporters claim will require shops with roll-your-own machines to pay some federal and state tobacco taxes they’re now avoiding.

Imposing such standards will create a level playing field, industry officials have said.

Opponents argue the measure, SB 74 [1] from Powhatan County Republican Sen. John Watkins, actually is an attempt by big tobacco to snuff out niche competition from retailers who sell a carton’s worth of cigarettes at a lower price than many name brands.

Two merchants who run South Hampton Roads stores with automated rolling machines – they combine loose tobacco and paper tubes to produce 200 cigarettes in about 10 minutes – testified against the bill Tuesday.

They rejected claims they’re manufacturers, explaining customers oversee the assembly by inserting purchased cigarette ingredients into the machines.

“I want to be clear – I do not manufacture cigarettes and have no intention of doing so,” said Laneia Horton, who operates a Virginia Beach store with two cigarette machines. “The customer is involved from the start to finish, 100 percent.”

Horton and Eddie Siu, another retailer with shops in Hampton Roads, said Watkins' bill would put them out of business. That’s partly because they're unable qualify as a manufacturer under government standards, lobbyists representing roll-your-own interests said.

The Virginia debate mirrors a broader national row over whether or not merchants who provide access to the rolling machines are cigarette manufacturers.

Watkins' legislation sailed out of committee Wednesday morning. A similar bill is pending in the House of Delegates.

If those measures become law, roll-your-own representatives said they would challenge them in court.

TOPICS: Business/Economy
KEYWORDS: philipmorris; rollyourown; tax; tobacco
The best government that lobbyists can buy.
1 posted on 01/25/2012 5:31:34 PM PST by csvset
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To: csvset

Smoked for 35 years. My last one was July 19, 2007, at 0230 hrs. Loved Virginia tobacco, but she didn’t love me. I quit her and never looked back. Those of you still hooked on “coffin nails”, have my deepest sympathy.

2 posted on 01/25/2012 5:47:28 PM PST by PowderMonkey (WILL WORK FOR AMMO)
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To: csvset

Always the crony capitalists seek to “level the playing field”.

3 posted on 01/25/2012 5:56:21 PM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: csvset
This is so typical of the big Republican dogs in the state legislature in Virginia.

Like the Democrats before them they are owned by Big Tobacco, Big Smoked Ham and Enormous State Universities.

4 posted on 01/25/2012 6:10:08 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: 1010RD

Just what I was thinking. Tobacco companies and government are the oldest and biggest crony capitalist cabal of all. Together they have rigged the game from the growers to the retailers.

5 posted on 01/25/2012 7:07:28 PM PST by TigersEye (Life is about choices. Your choices. Make good ones.)
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I have several friends who have cig-rolling machines and save BIG money by manufacturing their own smokes.

6 posted on 01/25/2012 7:16:01 PM PST by Rio (DNRC)
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To: csvset
That's how I see it.

I smoke tobacco.
Currently the manufactured menthol flavored brand I prefer retails at $3.74 a pack.
There is a local tobacco shop that provides customers the choice to duplicate or create their own generic “blend” of dried plant ingredients, and provides customers access to simple machines that roll the blended tobacco with paper and filters, into finished cigarettes.
The business that offers this option, was started by laid off cigar workers from nearby Tampa/Ybor City manufacturing plants.
Certain elements of “government” and some large scale manufacturers are very angry that capitolism actually works, and all those “sin taxes” and “brand names” mean very little to the consumers of a simple, legal plant product. It flips their whole world upside down! Contrast that with people who happily pay twice as much for raw coffee beans, and grind them "fresh" at the store or at home. Or those who blend their own tea leaves to taste, instead of buying Lipton pre-packaged tea bags. Are people only allowed to do it ourselves, if we must pay twice as much for raw products? ROTFLMAO!

7 posted on 01/25/2012 7:47:01 PM PST by sarasmom
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8 posted on 01/25/2012 7:56:06 PM PST by RedMDer (Forward With Confidence!)
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To: sarasmom

That’s Cigar Dave’s stomping ground.

9 posted on 01/25/2012 8:19:25 PM PST by Ken H (Austerity is the irresistible force. Entitlements are the immovable object.)
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To: Ken H
Yes, it is.

I met him once, casually, many years ago at at Tampa bar.
He was not drinking that night, nor was he “cruising for chicks”. Just out and about.
Long before he got his own show.
He is a good man, IMHO.
A true gentleman, worthy of the name.

He would have no reason to remember a very short, very casual conversation, but I wont forget it.
We didn't even exchange names.
My friend the bar owner, told me his name later when I asked him if he knew that very polite, truly nice guy.

10 posted on 01/25/2012 8:52:35 PM PST by sarasmom
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To: 1010RD

good old fashioned American productivity being killed off in front of our eyes...

11 posted on 01/26/2012 3:07:17 AM PST by cherry
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To: cherry; TigersEye

Ingenuity as well. Our nation was founded on avoiding obtrusive government interference in our economic lives (in reality a distinction without a difference). Americans delight in smuggling, tariff and tax avoidance and generally thumbing our noses at the pretensions of big government. Is any American foolish enough to believe that government cares for our personal health or is smoking a desperately needed cash cow?

I don’t smoke and find smoke annoying, yet like the Founders across 13 “states” with little to join them I recognize that if they come for Boston, they’ll come for me. Too many Americans are loathe to waste time on an issue that seems ephemeral to them and their lives.

The truth is that when government interferes in one sphere it is simple a precedent for further action elsewhere.

12 posted on 01/26/2012 4:20:31 AM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD

I don’t smoke either. But if you ply the powers that be with enough cash, they in turn can put the screws on whomever you want. It’s not law yet, Philip Morris has to spend some more money to make that happen.

13 posted on 01/26/2012 5:12:31 AM PST by csvset
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To: 1010RD

Can’t argue with any of that. If they push the price of tobacco much higher it will become as profitable to smuggle in a bale of tobacco as it is to smuggle a bale of marijuana. Even the conservative factions in Latin American countries will be loathe to engage in yet another war on drugs against their tobacco farmers just to please Uncle Sam once again.

14 posted on 01/26/2012 12:31:35 PM PST by TigersEye (Life is about choices. Your choices. Make good ones.)
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