Roll-your-own cigarette shops move to form private smoking clubs
Owners of several tobacco shops that charged customers to use $35,000 cigarette-rolling machines until changes in federal law made the practice illegal are looking to establish private smoking clubs.
Like other fraternal organizations, the nonprofit smoking clubs would require members to pay dues, elect officers and meet monthly. Each would have a social calendar.
A possible perk of membership: use of a refrigerator-sized rolling machine, which can churn out the equivalent of a carton of cigarettes in about 10 minutes.
“We all tended to agree that there's a need for this now,” said Albert A. Torrence, a Beaver-based attorney who filed notices of incorporation with the Department of State on behalf of three tobacco shop owners who want to form clubs, which would be separate from their business.
The Internal Revenue Service must sign off on the clubs, which could take several months, Torrence said.
Congress in June passed a law that placed tobacco shop owners with rolling machines in the same class as cigarette manufacturers, such as Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds. The law requires the small shops to get manufacturing permits and imposes excise taxes on cigarettes made and sold, erasing any competitive advantage over traditional sellers of name-brand smokes.
Several of Western Pennsylvania's dozens of roll-your-own shops closed. Others hung on, selling loose tobacco and cigarette tubes.
Torrence said the clubs would seek permission from the state and federal governments to use the rolling machines. He does not think their use would violate the law because they would not be used to turn a profit.
Roy Albert, who owns Tobacco Road in Bethel Park, is applying to establish the South Pittsburgh Social Smoker's Club. He'd like to find a way to get some use out of his machines.
“I've got $85,000 (invested) in these machines,” Albert said, adding that business declined at his tobacco shop by 60 percent, and he reduced his employees from 10 to two after the law passed.
Albert predicted about 200 people might join his smoking club and said he would charge monthly dues of $40.
Also seeking approval to operate clubs:
• Rob and Sharon Kingerski, owners of the Roll With It tobacco shop in Ambridge, who want to form the Ambridge Freedom of Choice Smoker's Club;
• Josh Egal, owner of the Moon-based Smoke Stack, who would form the Smoker's Club of Moon Township.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Deliberations begin in party bus shooting in Sheraden
- Man charged in child rape case from 2014 arrested again
- North Fayette company changes defendants in Antonio Brown endorsement lawsuit
- Sinkhole caused by mine subsidence closes Laketon Road in Penn Hills
- Roberto Clemente Bridge closes for construction of bike lanes
- Lawrenceville man will stand trial on ‘revenge porn’ charges
- School choice tax credit expansion bill touted
- Wilkinsburg state deputy constable charged with official oppression
- Body from Ohio River may be link to missing Pittsburgh man Kochu
- Ex-Gov. Ridge: Hacking group’s kill list only a scare tactic
- Allegheny County loses population, Census figures indicate