An amendment buried in the federal transportation bill signed by President Obama on Friday has forced roll-your-own cigarette shops to shutter across the country, including South Florida.
The law redefines tobacco manufacturers, and now includes businesses that use machines to roll cigarettes. The law also will tax the tobacco products at the same rate of packaged cigarettes.
The interest in roll-your-own smokes has grown in recent years because the cost was usually much less compared to packaged cigarettes sold by big tobacco companies like Marlboro and Camel.
David Fiore, owner of Double D's Tobacco, which has seven South Florida locations, stopped using his rolling machines Friday. The commercial use machines roll a carton of cigarettes in less than 10 minutes, he said.
"This bill is going to put a lot of people out of work," Fiore said. "And now there's going to be even more empty retail space in shopping centers."
Fiore said he'll shut down his East Boca store off Boca Raton Boulevard. Without the rolling services, he said the store won't remain profitable.
Double D's Tobacco stores are open today and sell the tubes and loose tobacco without the option of having it rolled in the store. Fiore said he also sells rolling machines that customers can puchase and use in their home.
Where a carton of packaged cigarettes would cost more than $60, they sold at Double D's Tobacco for $26.99.
"There's not chemicals in the filters or the tobacco either," he said.
Ciggy Mart, a roll-your-own tobacco shop in Palmetto Bay, is open today selling only loose tobacco and tubes. The owners plan to meet with an attorney to try to file a federal injunction against the law, said owner Scott Archer.
"Right now we're going to try to sustain without the machines," Archer said. "But this law is meant to put us out of business."