Groups agree to abandon ‘roll-your-own’ lawsuits
The companies challenging the Legislature’s tax on “roll-your-own” cigarettes have thrown in the towel.
Both sides agreed to have the lawsuit dismissed, which the Franklin County Superior Court and state Supreme Court did July 3. It might be another nail in the coffin for stores whose machines roll and sell discount cigarettes.
Chris Weiss, lead attorney for the roll-your-own cigarettes coalition, said his clients dropped their lawsuit because of a new federal law.
President Barack Obama signed the law Friday, placing the stores under federal regulation, which could make the stores’ operation so difficult that they will close even without the new state tax that treats roll-your-own the same as other cigarettes.
The state revenue department said under the federal law, the stores would have to start paying federal taxes and obtain cigarette manufacturing licenses.
“For right now, while everyone looks to see what the federal law (will do), the state lawsuit is not going to go forward,” Weiss said, adding that the dismissal doesn’t preclude his clients from resuming the lawsuit in the future.
The roll-your-own industry was challenging the state law as a violation of voter-imposed rules requiring two-thirds majorities in the Legislature to raise taxes. The law was shaping up as a potential test of the constitutionality of the two-thirds requirement.
But the Supreme Court had allowed the law to go into effect as scheduled July 1, and the dismissal ensures it will remain.