New York City ‘Roll-Your-Own’ Cigarette Shops Under Fire

In an effort to crack down on smoking rates and retain revenue from the city and state tobacco tax, New York City has filed a lawsuit against the city’s first “roll-your-own” cigarette business, Reuters reported.

Roll-your-own cigarettes

Cigarette paper and tobacco in a hand

Island Smokes, a “roll-your-own” cigarette shop, allows patrons to make their own cigarettes one by one with loose tobacco, which are a fraction of the price of store-bought city cigarettes.

Loose tobacco is sold at much lower rates than manufactured tobacco, which allows patrons to pay about $4.50 a pack. If they roll an entire carton of 10 packs, the price drops even lower to $3 a pack. Typically a pack of 20 cigarettes in the city averages $12 to $13, and can reach as high as $15.

The lawsuit claims Island Smokes was manufacturing the cigarettes without paying any city taxes. Furthermore the suit claims that the lower prices offered by Island Smokes creates an unfair advantage over business owners who pay commercial tobacco taxes.

New York City has seen a 35 percent drop in smoking rates since expanding its public health campaigns in 2002, in which they started raising cigarette taxes.

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