More Smokers Growing Own Tobacco

A growing number of smokers are deciding to cultivate their own tobacco plants at home, with some tobacco-seed suppliers seeing a tenfold increase in sales, the Associated Press reported Aug. 19.

While most people still rely on tobacco companies for their cigarettes, the federal tax increase on cigarettes that took effect in April — combined with state tax hikes — has driven some smokers to seek more affordable alternatives. On average, a pack of cigarettes cost $4.35 in the U.S., while growing the same amount at home costs about 30 cents.

A tobacco seed planted in March can yield smokeable leaves by October. However, growing and cultivating tobacco involves caring for the seeds indoors during the colder months and then transplanting them outdoors, pruning the plant leaves, rotating plants after a few years, and maintaining the required balance of chemicals in the soil. 

Tobacco industry analyst Philip Gorham of the research organization Morningstar said he doesn't foresee many smokers deciding to grow their own tobacco.

“It's one thing to switch from a premium brand to a discount one. It's quite another to switch from buying a manufactured product to roll your own,” said Gorham. 

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