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Roll-Your-Own Cigarette Machine Makers Object To Proposed Tax Hike

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A woman lights up. (file/AFP Getty Images)

A woman lights up. (file/AFP Getty Images)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A bill awaiting a Senate vote is either about tax fairness or about big business getting bigger.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, it depends on whom you believe.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

Right now, it’s much cheaper to buy tobacco in bulk, buy some paper tubes, and put it all into a cigarette-making machine.

A roll-your-own machine can produce a carton’s worth of cigarettes for about $20, as opposed to the $50 or more you would pay for the leading national brand at a convenience store.

State Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) wants to change that.

“This sets forth a tax and regulatory scheme that would treat roll-your-own cigarettes like regular retail cigarettes, thus closing the tax loophole,” Link said.

But not everyone agrees that tax fairness is the motivation.

“This is not about taxes,” said Phil Accordino, president of Ohio-based RYO Machine LLC, which makes cigarette-rolling machines. “This is about legislating winners and losers.”

Advocates of the “roll your own” industry have said all the bill would do is encourage the customers – who already pay some tax – to go out of state or to the Internet. Owners of roll-your-own shops in Worth and Peoria have described themselves as job creators who would have to put their employees out of work if the bill passes.

Senators admit big tobacco is supporting Link’s bill.

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