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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Why do stores not sell single cigarettes?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (17703points) 1 week ago

I went shopping and a poor man offered me $5 or $10 for a single cigarette. I didn’t smoke. He ended up asking random customers for a smoke. One gave him his half smoked smoke.

Is it a packaging issue? It would save people grief to just be able to buy one smoke at a time.

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21 Answers

dxs's avatar

The FDA forbids it. On their website they say: Do NOT sell cigarette packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes, including single cigarettes, known as “loosies.”

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@dxs Thanks. it’s the law.
Do NOT sell cigarette packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes, including single cigarettes, known as “loosies.”

Why is it the law?

dxs's avatar

Yes, that’s the next question. But @RedDeerGuy1, I just remembered that you’re not in the USA.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I always thought it had to do with the ATF making sure that the various taxes were paid by the tobacco companies and the retailer.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

They do sell them. They’re called loosies. It isn’t legal but liquor stores in poor neighborhoods sell them. Back in the day it was a thing in college towns, too. I don’t know if that is still true.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 “Why is it the law?”

Easier to tax packaged goods than individuals.

Although I’m not understanding why the guy in your situation didn’t just take his $10 and buy a pack, rather than offer $10 for a loosie.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Darth_Algar In Alberta a tax on a pack of cigarettes is over $10. He also wanted to go halfers.

kritiper's avatar

A tax stamp can be affixed to a package but not a single cigarette. Too expensive to try, I’d suppose. Also, the tobacco falls out of a single smoke if not properly contained in a package.

Dutchess_III's avatar

just the tax on a pack of smokes is over $10???

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_III 15 years ago a single pack of 20 smokes cost $21 in Jasper national park convenience store. I is safe to say that the price only went up from there.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1…for the sake of easy math let’s say your sales tax is 10%. If taxes alone, on a pack of smokes, are $10 then the pack of smokes costs $100. Do I have that right?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes. In my case, the principle is less than the tax from the store I worked at. The tax is over 50% when I was a cashier.

gondwanalon's avatar

I don’t know why it is against the law to cell loose cigarettes but it seems to be a very serious crime. Eric Garner in 2014 died from a stranglehold that cops put on him for selling loose cigarettes on the street.

chyna's avatar

I just googled the price of a 20 pack of cigarettes in Canada. From 13.00 to 15.00 a pack! So about 150.00 a carton. Wow!

Darth_Algar's avatar

@chyna

Not much different than some places here in the US. Although a carton likely wouldn’t be that high. As with all things, buying in quantity is cheaper, per unit, than buying one at a time. Some states tax the ever-loving shit out of cigarettes (NY and IL are particularly bad offenders in this regard). Which is unfortunate, as the highest percentage of habitual smokers are in the lower income bracket. Cigarette taxes become just another way to punish the poor for their bourgeoisie-disapproved lifestyle choices.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Cigarette taxes are less punishing than cigarette smoking.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Be that as it may, cigarettes are particularly singled out because smoking is no longer socially acceptable except in lower class circles. Alcohol, by contrast, is socially accepted across all socioeconomic circles and is not taxed at the kind of rate than cigarettes are, despite the massive social and economic costs involved with alcohol consumption. (Even at that wine, more commonly drank among middle and higher classes, is taxed at a considerably lower rate than beer.)

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SEKA's avatar

I would think that if there was any money to be made at selling single purchase that the tobacco companies would already be doing it. At the same time, I know of one guy in my town who buys cigs by the carton and sells them 1 at a time. He has people who stop by 3–4 times a day to buy just 1 cig. One guy says he smokes less when he does single buy. He says if he buys a whole pack that he’ll smoke the whole pack in a day; but buying single means he won’t smoke more than 4 cigs because he’s too lazy to go out to buy more than that.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@SEKA sure, but that’s the shadow – unregulated economy. If the regulatory agencies had the inclination, he could be arrested and cited. Of course it happens, but that doesn’t make it legal.

SEKA's avatar

@elbanditoroso Nobody cares about what he is doing. He’s paying retail price for the cigs he buys so the store nor the tobacco co’s care. He’s paying the outrageous cigarette tax so the state doesn’t care. He’s on disability and can’t work a regular job, so he’s supplementing his income simply to survive which means the state doesn’t care because it keeps him off medicaid. He doesn’t bother anyone so nobody bothers him

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