photo: MARK HARRISON / THE SEATTLE TIMES
September 6, 2010 - One of the provisions in the rule that became effective on June 22, 2010 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibited the sale of cigarette packages with fewer than 20 cigarettes. (U.S. FDA publishes rule to protect our children that restrict advertising and marketing of tobacco products..)
The FDA stopped the sales June 22, and stores in Washington State had until September 1, 2010 to sell off any remaining stock. The SingleStick cigarette sold at convenience stores, just one cigarette, in a plastic tube, selling for 75 cents to $1 each. "They were very popular. We sold 80 a day," says Amy Chinn, owner of the Mercer Mini Mart in Seattle. "People would ask me what happened. I would tell them, 'Ask the government. I can't answer that.' "
They had been around for 15 years, sometimes displayed in a cardboard box on the cash-register counter, sometimes inside a plastic box that rolled them out like toothpicks.
Anti-smoking forces had never liked that some enterprising stores would open up a pack of cigarettes and sell them individually. They said that would entice kids to buy them and begin the habit.
So in 1993 states banned stores from doing that. But because of quirks in laws of a few states, including Oregon and Washington, it turned out that until the FDA stepped in, individual cigarettes could be sold — if each cigarette had its own tax stamp.
A Phoenix company, Prime Time International, decided to package individual cigarettes in plastic tubes, and at first had workers applying the stamps by hand. Then it figured out how to use automation to apply encrypted tax stamps to each tube, so each tube had its own individual stamp. It'd turn out that Oregon and Washington were the biggest markets for SingleSticks.
Reference: Need to buy one last cigarette? Too bad; SingleStick sales halted by Erik Lactitis, Seattle Times, 9/6/2010.
Washington State - some related new briefs:
Washington State - smoking rate going down, smokeless tobacco use going up..;
Washington State - since 2000 61% fewer people smoking inside homes..;
Washington State - tax on tobacco products increase as of May 1, 2010..;
Washington State - increase in tax on all tobacco products..
Washington State - R.J. Reynolds found guilty of violating ban on cartoons..;
Weight-based taxation of moist snuff..