State Sues N.H. Tobacco Store That Allows Customers to Make Own Cigarettes

A tobacco-shop owner in Brookline, N.H., who has two roll-your-own tobacco machines for customer use is being sued by the state as a “cigarette manufacturer,” the Manchester Union-Leader reported Aug. 19.

Under the nationwide tobacco settlement of 1998, manufacturers of tobacco products agreed to pay states for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses among the Medicaid population. The lawsuit filed in Merrimack County Superior Court  says that Joseph Correia Jr.’s store, Tobacco Haven, should be declared a tobacco manufacturer and either make payments to the state or put money into an escrow account in case the state sues for Medicaid reimbursement payments.

The state also is seeking taxes it says are owed on manufactured cigarettes.

Each of Correia’s machines can make 200 cigarettes in about 10 minutes, according to David Rienzo, New Hampshire’s assistant attorney general. Customers who buy tobacco and rolling papers for cigarettes can get instructions on how to use the machines, and pay $26 for a carton, about $30 less than the going price in New Hampshire for a carton of pre-rolled cigarettes.

Correia’s lawyer, Jeffrey Burd, contends that Tobacco Haven is not a manufacturer of tobacco products.

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