Updated at 5:17 p.m.
Former Rep. Philip English (R-Pa.) of Arent Fox is advocating for a Cincinnati-based company that manufactures machines that let consumers roll their own cigarettes, according to lobbying registration paperwork submitted to Congress last week.
English, a senior government relations adviser with the firm, is lobbying for RYO Machine LLC on licensure and taxation issues concerning the devices, which are intended to making smoking cheaper.
The machines allow customers to make their cigarettes with pipe tobacco, which receives a lower tax rate than tobacco for cigarettes. The federal excise tax is $2.83 on a pound of pipe tobacco, compared with $24.78 on a pound of roll-your-own tobacco and $20.13 on 400 pre-manufactured cigarettes that have about a pound of tobacco. More than a thousand of the machines are in tobacco shops in dozens of states, according to the company's Web site.
English said RYO Machine hired his firm to make Washington policymakers aware of "unfair attention" it has received from the U.S. Treasury Department.
The U.S. Treasury Department Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau last year issued a rule that would regulate cigarettes that consumers produce in stores for personal use. The ruling, which RYO Machine is fighting in federal court, would subject cigarettes made in the shops to the same taxes as cigarettes produced by large manufacturers.
"I'm excited about helping them in a small way," English said.