FORT MYERS, Fla. - "Roll Your Own" cigarette stores across Southwest Florida are going up in smoke! Inside the recently signed Federal Transportation Package was a tax provision that could force many stores to close their doors.
Under the new law, these shops have to pay the same taxes as cigarettes sold in convenience or grocery stores. These stores have large machines to make cigarettes, so now they're recognized as cigarette manufacturers.
"We opted out of getting the big machines because of the legalities," said Brandie Richards, owner of "Roll 'Em Up Smoke Shop."
"When we first opened up that's what we wanted to do. We wanted to have those machines. But after about 6-months of research, 'I'm like, It's not worth it.' I had a feeling it was gonna happen soon," she said.
Rolling machines cost about $33,000 each. The cost of the rolled cigarettes was usually much less compared to packaged cigarettes sold by big tobacco companies.
"It's not just the cost that's an advantage to us," said smoker Marta Striepling.
Many smokers believe pipe tobacco is healthier.
"The cigarette tobacco in the major brands has all those chemicals added to it," Striepling said.
"It's not a healthier option. They're tricking these people into thinking that this is a healthier option so you can still smoke, but it's still unhealthy and people need to realize that. If you want to smoke we're here for you. If you don't, you can quit," Richards stated.