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Ohio Smoker Grows His Own Tobacco

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Some people brew their own beer or make their own wine; now, an Ohio man is testing the viability of growing his own tobacco in the face of rising cigarette costs.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported June 28 that Don Carey of Peninsula, Ohio is testing 40 varieties of tobacco on three-quarters of an acre of land. Carey said the experiment was a response to a federal tax hike on roll-your-own tobacco; he is a lifelong cigarette and cigar smoker.

Carey used the Internet to find tobacco seeds and planted 7,000. A spokesperson for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which recently gained the authority to regulate tobacco products, said it is legal for Americans to grow their own tobacco for personal use.

Others have also expressed interest in growing their own tobacco since the new tax hikes went into effect. However, growing tobacco can be a challenge, said David Dugan, an agricultural expert at Ohio State University.

''If the crop grows well, [Carey] is going to need a lot of space to hang this stuff to get it to cure and then a lot of space to store it once it is stripped,'' he said. Curing tobacco is weather-dependent and humidity must be controlled, and the drying leaves must be protected from insects and rodents, said Dugan.

On the other hand, Ohio is a proven tobacco-growing region: 1,450 acres of tobacco were harvested in 2006 in Brown County, where Carey is located.

Carey said he is a pack-a-day smoker and needs approximately 17 pounds of tobacco for a year's supply. “So if I get a thousand pounds, it will be good for 50-something years,” he said.

''I'm not trying to start a revolution or anything,'' said Carey. “I'm trying to end up with a finished product I can use for cigarettes and cigars.”

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