Nanny State

Roll Your Own, Avoid the Taxes

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Thanks to city and state taxes that add $5.85 to the retail price, New Yorkers commonly pay more than $10 for a pack of cigarettes. But at two shops in Chinatown and on Staten Island, customers can get cigarettes for half that price by rolling their own from loose tobacco and paper tubes, using the stores' machines. The proprietors argue that they owe no cigarette tax because they are not selling cigarettes, merely the materials needed to make them. The city, not surprisingly, disagrees. "By selling illegally low-priced cigarettes," it complains in a federal lawsuit, "defendants not only interfere with the collection of city cigarette taxes, they also impair the city's smoking cessation programs and impair individual efforts at smoking reduction, thereby imposing higher health care costs on the city and injuring public health."

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]

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  1. Outside Chinatown, government rolls you!

  2. Let’s roll…

  3. “By selling illegally low-priced cigarettes, defendants not only interfere with the collection of city cigarette taxes, they also impair the city’s smoking cessation programs and impair individual efforts at smoking reduction, thereby imposing higher health care costs on the city and injuring public health.”

    These shopkeepers are true patriots.

    1. Yeah, they’re not doing it for the money at all.

      1. Yeah, you can’t do two things at once.

      2. That’s part of what makes them a patriot in my book, you collectivist cockmongler.

      3. You both perfectly encapsulated all the responses I had in mind.

  4. “impair the city’s smoking cessation programs and impair individual efforts at smoking reduction”

    Does this argument actually have a chance of being considered valid in federal courts?

    1. Yes. The courts long ago ordained that they have the power to consider the “public interest” in a broad spectrum of cases including constitutional defenses offered by folks engaged in consensual activities.

  5. Stokkebye Norwegian Shag and you don’t really need your own machine to roll it.

    1. I would love a Norwegian Shag, but I don’t know any Norwegians.

      1. Yeah, baby!

        1. I hate the Dutch.

  6. Similar situation in California but with a different approach. The tax agency responsible for cigarette and tobacco taxes did not try to tax it as cigarettes, but thought about requiring a manufacturing license for the retailers ($1000/year license as opposed to $100/one time license fee). At this time, they are being left alone, and not considered manufacturers.

    http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/pub204.pdf

  7. How in blue feckity does failing to cough up a higher than 50% tax on their merchandise “impair individual efforts” at doing anything?

    “Oh, mammy! I can feel those two vendors, across the sea of eight million other people, not paying taxes on their tobacco and papers. And it just makes me want to smoke like a chimney, and abandon my resoution to quit.” Really? Really?

  8. impair individual efforts at smoking reduction

    Line them up against a wall, shoot, repeat as necessary.

  9. Hell, I used to get an ounce of Norwegian Shag for about $2.50 an ounce and I could roll about 30 cigs from it. Can’t find a good tobacco shop like that here in the big city, though. I thought there was supposed to be more choices in big cities. So not true.

    1. Part of the reason it is more expensive now is that Congress raised the federal tax on rolling tobacco by 1000% (not an exageration). In Houston a ounce of good rollie is $6-7 depending on the store. Buying a a big can is cheaper. Or you can buy Bugle or some shit but stuff is nasty.

  10. I’m surprised they didn’t wring their hands over the message it sends to the children. Whatever that would be.

  11. Next up:Bans on rolling papers.

    1. Next up:Bans on rolling papers.

      Psssh!!! Yeah, right. Like that will ever happen. What, are they going to ban paper?

    2. No, but they did increase the federal tax on papers. See below.

  12. In my area, tobacco stores are selling “pipe tobacco” wink nudge in flavors like “mint” wink nudge and “mellow” nudge wink nudge.

    But, yeah, the fuckers that come up with these taxes and rules (mostly Team Blue, thanks a fuckin’ lot) do it thinking they’re doing God’s Work (or the FSM’s work or Gaia’s work or what the fuck ever), but it doesn’t do any good in the end.

    Rat fucking bastards. What’s next on their agenda?

    1. Your menu, white boy.

  13. This is an asinine stance for NY City, but it can still be beat.

    In one store (Moe’s Tobacco Shop) we’ll sell nothing but loose tobacco. In the shop next door (Larry’s Rolling Paper Ltd) we’ll sell nothing but rolling papers. Across the street (Curly’s Machine Rental) we’ll rent out time on a rolling machine.

    This way no one can be accused of selling cigarettes.

    However, the three stores can be incorporated separately and all three corporations can be wholly owned subsidiaries of a single overseeing corporation owned by one person.

    It’s f’d up that someone would have to do this, but until they outlaw lawyers and accountants, people can still fight the system.

    1. EVUL COPERASHUNS!!1!ONE!won

      1. We are SOOOO proud of how they turned out.

        1. They’re God’s gift to democracy.

    2. I’ll believe that corporations are not people when New York City stops taxing and regulating them.

    3. Sort of like the way the optometrist wink nudge doesn'[t have anything to do with the lenscrafters wink nudge, except that there’s a giant opening so that you can walk directly from one to the other.

  14. Increase U.S. Federal Tax on a pack of cigarettes from $0.39 to $1.01 per pack
    Increase Federal tax on pipe tobacco from $1.0969 per pound to $2.83 per pound
    Increase Federal tax on RYO tobacco from $1.0969 per pound to $24.78 per pound
    Increase Federal tax on cigarette papers (50 or less) from $0.0122 to $0.0315
    Federal tax on cigarette tubes (50 or less) = $0.0244 – New rate is $0.0630

    Thanks, Obummer

    1. “If you a]make less than $250,000 you will not see your taxes increase by one dime.”

      1. He promised not to cum in my mouth, but I’m not disappointed by the lies he told.

  15. In my town the majority rolls their own. I suspect price is only one factor. The other is that if you choose to roll a joint instead it does not appear to be an obvious change in behavior.

  16. You could pay even less and avoid a lot of carcinogens along with the taxes. Google electronic cigarettes and “WTA e-liquid”

  17. NYC claims the right to tax and regulate tobacco sales.

    Why haven’t they passed a law to ensure that these tobacco sales aren’t taxed at a lower tax rate instead of grandstanding for the cameras?

    Something tells me they want to send a message to anyone that challenges their reign of power that “we will ruin your life, even if we are wrong in applying the law”.

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