Utah Senate moves to close cigarette-tax loophole

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Some smokers have managed to escape Utah's high cigarette taxes by buying machines to roll their own. But Utah lawmakers are in the process of closing that loophole.

The Senate voted 27-2 Wednesday to pass and send to the House SB36 to begin taxing cigarettes made by any rolling machines capable of making 150 cigarettes in less than 30 minutes.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, said some who own such machines make cigarettes not only for themselves, but often to sell to friends, family and others. "We have a loophole where some of these are escaping regulation, escaping taxation," he said.

Utah charges a cigarette tax of $1.70 per pack, more than double the 69.5 cents a pack in 2010.

"The main thing is we are treating all manufacturers and vendors of cigarettes the same once we get this bill in place," Harper told the Senate.

Lee Davidson