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Transportation bill stops state tobacco companies

It's been nothing but headaches for Discount Smokes in New Richmond since the transportation bill was signed into law. That's because a portion of that bill designated Roll Your Own machines (like the one at Discount Smokes) as manufacturing, thus requiring a RYO business to obtain manufacturing permits and tax the cigarettes made on those machines.

"This has been kind of a rollercoaster ride," said Dave Young, manager of Discount Smokes Tobacco.

Young said the owners of Roll Your Own (RYO) machines have been battling the state, and now the federal government, since 2010.

"One day it's OK to run the machines and the next it's not," he said. "That machine saved people $30 to 40 a carton and that's money they would have spent other places."

In order to operate a RYO machine, retailers are required to obtain the necessary permits and affix cigarette tax stamps on all cigarette packages that leave the store.

"It's an outrageous amount of money to do that," Young said. "We can't afford that. It's not an option for a small business like this."

Luckily, Young said Discount Smokes' sales of bagged tobacco and tobacco products are enough to keep the company afloat in New Richmond.

"We'll survive, but that machine was a big part of our income," he said.

Sue Allen of New Richmond said the new regulations don't make any sense.

"How is (the RYO machine) any different than buying the little mechanism to roll your own at home?" she asked. "Why can I grind my own coffee beans at a store or pump my own gas at a pump, but I can't roll my own cigarettes?"

Young said it's been extremely frustrating for tobacco shop owners; however, they're not going to give up the fight.

"They want to make it impossible for a customer to come into a retail or commercial setting and manufacture their own," he said. "We just don't understand why they care."

In the meantime, Young said Discount Smokes will continue to offer bagged tobacco to its customers at the lowest possible price. In addition, they've added a complete line of premium cigars and hookah supplies.