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Max Baucus’ Highway Bill Destroys an Entire Industry

Max Baucus
Photo courtesy of Center for American Progress Action Fund/Flickr

Senator Baucus has nothing but good things to say about the $105 billion highway bill that was carefully crafted to relocate pork-loads of cash back home to good old Big Sky Country. Ironically, though often lauded as a “jobs bill,” the Highway bill will actually end up putting at least a few thousand people out of work thanks to a new tax that will make one particular industry financially unsustainable. If you work in the Roll-Your-Own (RYO) cigarette industry, you probably already know this by now.

As far as I know, Montana doesn’t have any RYO cigarette stores, so Baucus is unlikely to be hassled by his own constituents for his decision to bow down to Big Tobacco money and crush a mom-and-pop industry. For those that don’t know, RYO cigarettes are created by placing loose tobacco in a machine and rolling that tobacco with paper . . . pretty simple. Those that support RYO cigarettes will claim they have less tar and other additives than more traditional death-sticks do.

Altria (proud owner of tobacco giant Phillip Morris) has been pushing hard for a tax increase on RYO cigarettes because buyers have been leaving the big brands in droves to find lower prices (because of lower taxes) at local RYO Businesses. Altria has been trying so hard, in fact, that with just a little searching you’ll find multiple donations to the Baucus campaign. In the end, Baucus and Big Tobacco are big winners while smokers and small business owners have to take yet another kick in the pants.

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