New Regs Choke Roll-Your-Own Stores

Formerly classed as retailers, the shops are now subject to red tape as "manufacturers"


Arizona business owners who capitalized on a booming niche market for customers who rolled their own cigarettes face a questionable future.

The operation was simple—customers bought pipe tobacco that was cheaper than cigarette tobacco and blended to their liking, bought paper tubes, and then poured the tobacco into a roll-your-own machine. Out popped a carton's worth of freshly rolled cigarettes that cost about half the price of a store-bought carton. Smokers came to the stores in droves, business owners said.

But a new federal regulation contained in the 584-page federal transportation bill added the classification of manufacturer to businesses that cater to roll-your-own customers. Previously, they were classified as retailers. The change is forcing owners to comply with a set of new, and costly, state and federal regulations.