Page 41 - Demo
P. 41

   80% upfront, but yet still had my wraps taken and was given a fine, because it did not have a stamp.” Mr. Souza has started the appeals process, as he feels he went above and be- yond to do the right thing and was penalized for doing so. The state also has a misclassification or lack thereof, on other non-tobacco products, such as cones. It’s also considered a cigarette paper and those were also confiscated from Mr. Souza’s shop, as he did not have a stamp on them even though he paid a higher taxation rate upon the initial purchase. These non-tobacco products are labeled for other uses, and are clearly written as such on the packaging. Due to the way these non-tobacco products are labeled, it completely kills the states taxation argument of calling them cigarettes and/or taxing them as tobacco products all together. How do we assist business owners like Mr. Souza conduct his business and stay compliant with the state of Rhode Island? It looks like there needs to be an overhaul made to the current legislation. “The way that it gets fixed is there needs to be a change in the legislative defi- nition of the word cigarette. If you look up the definition of cigarette from the state of RI they have terms in there that cover anything that is in a cone shape or can be made into a cone shape for the use of smoking.” As the current legislation stands, by the state’s own definition, they claim many non-tobacco products should be labeled as a cigarette, which they deem should BY JULIE ANN MEJIA require a cigarette tax stamp. Rhode Island is one of the only states in the nation that has such broad terminology in regards to smoking and is one of the strongest enforcers. The state of Rhode Island allots a significant annual budget to employee state inspectors to go into head shops and enforce such interpretative legal terminology. Souza feels the state can still capitalize on these products just by simply alter- ing the definition of the word cigarette and creating a new taxation bracket for non-tobacco products. He also feels just as cigars are taxed upon purchase, so should these other non-tobacco products. “I have months of data collected proving this system can work, the same way it functions successfully when I purchase cigars. I can pay the state a tax monthly, and the consumer pays the tax upon purchasing the product. The state would have to change the definition of the word cigarette in the legisla- tion by either adding a different section in the taxation form for non-tobacco products or creating a new form entirely. This new form or section should in- clude wraps and cones in there and now you have a whole new tax that you can collect from these non-tobacco products.” Souza’s ideas seem reasonable considering Rhode Island is one of the only states in our country that does not allow the sale of certain products; Raw brands for example are illegal in RI. Rhode Island is known for its stringent Continued on Page 41    13 FOLDS MAGAZINE • ISSUE XXIX• NOVEMBER 2021 39 

   39   40   41   42   43