Smoker grows her own to beat tax hike

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 08:34 07/01/2014

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A Southland woman is beating tobacco tax price hikes by turning over a new leaf and growing her own.

Liz, who does not want her surname published for fears someone might steal her crop, has been growing, curing, and smoking her own tobacco for about two years.

She and her partner each smoked about 50 grams of loose, roll your own tobacco per week, she said.

"Who wants to pay $60 a week for something you can grow yourself for less than $5?"

Each plant provides about 100 grams of tobacco, and takes four to six months to grow, she said.

Liz said that after picking the leaves, she hangs them and leaves them to "colour cure".

"You let them brown off, but not go crunchy, because tobacco is meant to be a bit moist."

Then it is as simple as shredding the cured leaves, a challenge in itself.

"I was doing it in the blender for a while, but I really need to invest in a proper shredder," Liz said. "I have done a lot of research, and a lot of trial and error,"

"I wrecked the first lot, because someone told me to dry the leaves in bunches, but they just went mouldy. If you ask me how to do it in another two years, I will probably tell you something completely different."

She and her partner often mix their homegrown tobacco with bought tobacco.

"To be honest, it tastes a bit like cigars, so it helps to blend it."

The plants grow to up to 2 metres tall, and Liz grows them throughout her garden at home.

"I've got about 30 in at the moment, they grow really well down here but they can't go anywhere near frost so you have to get your seasons right," she said.

It is legal to buy seeds, grow and smoke tobacco for personal use in New Zealand, but against the law to sell or give away home grown tobacco away.

Liz has recently decided to try selling tobacco plant seedlings to cover her own costs of growing and curing her own.

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- The Southland Times

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