People of Northwest Public Radio
Tue May 1, 2012
Lawsuit Likely Over Roll-Your-Own
The burgeoning roll-your-own cigarette industry in Washington is preparing to do legal battle against the state. Governor Chris Gregoire is expected to sign into law Wednesday a new tax on do-it-yourself smokes. That will likely trigger a lawsuit.
Perhaps it was the Great Recession. Just in the last two years, the roll-your-own or RYO cigarette industry has taken off in Washington. More than 60 smoke shops across the state now have machines that allow users to make their own cigarettes for about half the cost of a regular pack of smokes. But this year Washington lawmakers passed legislation to stamp and tax RYOs more like regular cigarettes. Proponents view it as closing a loophole. But Joe Baba, a pioneer in the industry, is urging Governor Gregoire to veto the measure.
Joe Baba: “Any time that a consumer is asked to spend time and energy and effort to make their own product, they should have a savings.”
Baba warns the tax will put roll-your-own shops out of business. He says he’s ready to go to court to challenge the tax if the governor signs it into law as expected.