Updated Jul 9, 2012 - 6:18 am
Valley tobacco shop owners blame Obama for snuffing out business
PHOENIX -- Rami Sweis with Big Bear Tobacco in Phoenix said a tiny amendment buried in the federal transportation bill signed Friday by the president could leave him no choice but to shut down the roll-your-own machines.
"They're about $32,000 a piece. I personally have, with my partner, 14 machines that we invested in," Sweis said.
His business, and about 30 others in Arizona, feature large machines customers can use to create cigarettes from loose tobacco and empty paper tubes purchased in the store.
But the new transportation bill included an amendment that requires such businesses to get manufacturing permits, put health warnings on packages and pay additional taxes on the cigarettes those machines produce. As a result, roll-your-own prices will soar and customers were upset Friday.
"I probably won't go back to the manufacturers that are pushing this through," he said.
Meanwhile, Sweis said customers will be forced to purchase cigarettes at convenience stores or other retail outlets at two or three times the price. He will have to lay off workers, he said, but he can stay in business.
"It will most likely shut down the stores that are only established because of the machines."
Jim Cross, Reporter