July 10, 2012
Hundreds of tobacco retailers who provide 'Roll Your Own' services are shutting down.
Federal legislation now classifies shops providing cigarette rolling machines to be classified as manufacturers. Many operators are finding it easier to drop the 'roll your own' business.
The concept is simple: the shop sells you tobacco, wrappers, and then rents you time on a machine that turns the two into cigarettes by the box. Customer Dave Mason says it's all about cost.
"I can get something just like what I get out of the store, but I can get it cheaper. About half the price."
But starting this week, shops that operate these 'roll your own' machines must register as cigarette manufacturers and pay hefty license fees. Most are shutting down instead.
Says Barbara Smith, a store manager: "It's sad for us to go, a lot of our customers are sad too, because they don't want to go back to regular cigarettes, they like these a lot better."
Die-hards can still roll their own cigarettes but they'll have to do it at home. The cost? 45 dollars.
Research shows that as prices go up smoking goes down. Tobacco Free Florida, which operates a Quit helpline issued a statement, saying there's no safe cigarette and no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke.
Says one 'roll your own' smoker, money isn't the issue.
"What business is it of the government's what you do to your own body?"
The change was pushed by some big tobacco companies and convenience stores. They worried the roll your own shops put them at a competitive disadvantage. For our unnamed smoker, it is a loss of freedom.
"This is not the same country I grew up in."
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids: "The general consensus is that every 10 percent increase in the real price of cigarettes reduces overall cigarette consumption by approximately three to five percent, reduces the number of young-adult smokers by 3.5 percent, and reduces the number of kids who smoke by six or seven percent."