City Suing Island Smokes, the Roll-Your-Own-Cigarettes Place

Because apparently it doesn't have any bigger fish to fry, the city is suing a place called Island Smokes on Eldridge Street where you can roll your own cigarettes due to a tax loophole. This is problematic for Bloomberg because under the Island Smokes arrangement, you can get a pack for $2.95, way less than the approximately $1K we're all supposed to be paying now.

The city announced in a press release today that they're officially going to try and sue them out of business.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced today the filing of a lawsuit against Island Smokes LLC and Island Smokes III LLC, businesses that evade cigarette taxes by providing customers with loose tobacco, tubes of cigarette paper and access to machinery that instantly produces finished cigarettes for the customer onsite. These "roll-your-own" businesses sell cigarettes in disregard of tax and other regulatory statutes applicable to cigarettes, claiming that the business owners do not sell cigarettes, but merely "facilitate" the customers' assembly of the cigarettes themselves.The City's suit, filed in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges that Island Smokes' businesses in Manhattan and Staten Island, along with their owners and employees, violate the Federal Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act and the New York State Cigarette Marketing Standards Act by selling cigarettes on which the required taxes have not been paid. The suit also alleges that the defendants cause a public nuisance by, among other things, selling cigarettes that have not been certified as "fire-safe" as required by New York State law.

No one at Island Smokes would comment on this story and we haven't yet been able to reach their lawyer. Those who smoke and don't want to spend their life savings now have three options: be like smoker's rights advocate Audrey Silk and grow your own tobacco, be lucky enough to be near a bodega that sells cheaper illegal smokes, or go to Jersey.

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

Go to Runnin' Scared for more Voice news coverage.


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