Monday, September 26, 2011

State Stands by Our Kids, Makes RYO Shops Follow the Law

Do you pay taxes? Roll-Your Own (RYO) tobacco companies don’t.

RYO businesses sell cigarettes that are manufactured at their shops (by actual customers). These businesses are creating generic cigarettes that look the same as name-brand cigarettes, have the same substances as in name-brand cigarettes, but cost about half the price of name brands, which is illegal because they are not paying the same taxes on their products as everyone else. This is a major health problem for our state because cheap cigarettes encourage youth to pick up the habit and discourage adults from quitting. Fortunately, Friday, Governor Walker and the Department of Revenue did something about it.

By allowing RYO shops to not pay taxes, we give children the idea that sometimes smoking can be okay. When we allow the promotion of unhealthy habits we, in turn, get an unhealthy generation that we have to foot the bill for. In fact, we already pay the price—each year Wisconsin pays $2.8 billion dollars on tobacco health care costs. Half a billion dollars from that cost comes directly from the pockets of Wisconsin taxpayers in the form of Medicaid. Personally, I would rather spend that money on my family, my rent check, or a down payment on a hot tub. By preventing this cost of tobacco in Wisconsin in the first place, we all save money.

Unfortunately, our state keeps cutting funding to the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, hurting our potential progress in lowering the burden of tobacco on our state.. And to add insult to injury, RYO shops aren’t paying taxes on the products producing these high-cost chronic diseases..

That is why we are happy that the governor’s administration and the Department of Revenue are requiring RYO shops to follow the law and pay taxes on the cigarettes they manufacture and sell. The law states “if a retailer or retailer’s customer operates a RYO machine on the retailer’s premises to make cigarettes with loose tobacco, the retailer is both a cigarette manufacturer and distributor. This will make RYO shops, more accountable for their products. It will decrease accessibility to tobacco products for kids. It will lessen the burden of tobacco costs on Wisconsin’s taxpayers. It will promote a healthier Wisconsin.