Anam Baig's Secret New York: The campaign on roll-your-own smoke shops

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Island Smokes, a roll-your-own-cigarettes smoke shop in Staten Island, sold its last packet of loose tobacco and rolled its last cigarette February 1, following a threat of lawsuits by the city.

Perhaps the roll-your-own concept is being weeded out, as six such shops have closed as a result of legal actions threatened by the city. These stores remained some of the final outposts that sell untaxed cigarettes to New York City smokers. According to an NY Post story, "The state Attorney General's Office joined in the city's effort to snuff out the latest targets in the ongoing crackdown."

Danielle Zucca, who worked with Island Smokes for the year it was opened, says that Island Smokes was the best job she has had, and it was hard for her to see the company close.

"The customers were very sad to see [Island Smokes] close down, they stocked up like crazy before we closed. People depended on our cigarettes not only because it was better for them, but because of the prices."

In its glory days here's how Island Smokes worked: The counter provided loose tobacco, empty filters, and a mellow spot to roll your cigs with in-house rolling machines. An 8oz bag of tobacco cost $33, and a box of empty filters was $5.50.

Basically, customers paid less than $40 for a carton of 200 cigarettes. In Duane Reade, the price for a carton of Marlboro Reds is over $115.

But now, these roll-your-own-butts shops are being forced to close their doors, as cigarette prices continue to rise and Bloomberg's war on cigarette smokers rages on.

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