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    Roll-Your-Own Cigarettes Are Under Fire in Virginia

    State senators approve a measure declaring anyone who operates or maintains a RYO cigarette machine at retail to be a cigarette manufacturer.

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Count Virginia as one more state that is taking action against roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco retail operations.

    According to the Virginia Legislative website, the state's senators yesterday unanimously approved Senate Bill 74, a measure that declares any person who operates or maintains a roll-your-own cigarette machine at a retail establishment to be a manufacturer of cigarettes.

    The issue stems from the disparity of taxes collected on RYO vs. a pack of cigarettes bought in a convenience store or other retail location.

    According to a report by WDBJ7.com, higher state and local taxes, fire-safe paper and the master tobacco settlement have all pushed the cost of retail cigarettes higher. For comparison, the price of 200 cigarettes produced on a RYO machine is about half the cost of a carton of cigarettes produced by a traditional manufacturer.

    "We think everyone who operates a cigarette manufacturing facility in Virginia should play by the same rules, be subject to the same regulations and pay the same taxes on the manufactured cigarette products that the industry pays," David Sutton, senior manager of media affairs for Altria, told the news outlet. The Altria Group, which calls Richmond home, is the parent company of Philip Morris USA.

    Roll-your-own is also under fire in New York State, drawing the attention of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his recent budget proposal. As part of the new budget, released on Jan. 17, Cuomo proposed taxing loose tobacco at the same rate as cigarettes, which in New York State is $4.35 per pack. In the case of loose tobacco, the levy would be $4.35 per ounce, as CSNews Online previously reported.

     

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