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Bill Would Eliminate Tax Loophole For Rolling Your Own Cigarettes

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- The days of saving money by using a "roll your own" cigarette machine could be over in Illinois.

As WBBM Newsradio's Dave Dahl reports, currently, smokers can get around the state cigarette tax by buying loose tobacco and 200 pre-rolled papers, and feeding them into a cigarette machine at a store where such machines are available.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Dave Dahl reports


The finished product comes out in minutes, and you walk away with 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.

The reason is that the tax rate is different, but a bill which a state Senate committee heard Wednesday would change that.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) who says his measure is about fairness.

"In one year, we see the amount of tax that would have otherwise been collected (rise) from $2.1 million to $10.7 million," said Illinois Department of Revenue's Jim Nichelson. "This is a rapidly increasing method to produce cigarettes without being subject to the cigarette tax."

Advocates of the "roll your own" industry 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 described themselves as job creators who would have to put their employees out of work if the bill passes.

After other senators had questions about who would benefit and who would be hurt, Link agreed to work on the bill some more. Another element of the bill drawing concern is the provision that would classify the store owners as manufacturers and subject them to further regulation.

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