Roll your own stores help smokers avoid cigarette tax

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by ELISA HAHN/KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 16, 2011 at 11:57 PM

Buying cigarette tax free smokes has come a long way baby.  In his new store, Cheap Smokes in White Center, Clint Hedin demonstrates how to load up tube and tobacco to roll your own smokes.
 

In about 8 minutes, a 900 pound automated machine spits out a full carton of cigarettes.
Because you, the customer, roll it yourself, you avoid paying the cigarette tax.
 

"I happen to believe that there are some smokers out there who want an alternative,” says Hedin.  “And don't mind using some of the time to do it themselves and save significant amount of money.”
 

Because you avoid the tax it's about 34 bucks for a carton, about half the price of an average carton.  The key to it being cigarette tax free is that the customer must buy the tobacco, then operate the machinery, and yes, even pack the cigarettes back into the box.  The cigarette tax is only on pre-manufatured smokes.
 

Cheap Smokes is the latest of a handful of roll your own stores to open up in the Puget Sound.  At Tobacco Joe’s in Everett, Kurt Ramuta comes in to roll a couple cartons a week for him and his wife.  "I guess we save 300 dollars a month,” Ramuta says.
 

Some smoke shop owners blow off this new competition, saying they can't compete with brand names like Camel or Marlboro. "Smokers love their own cigarette brand,” says Ali Khalid of Smoke Plus.“Everyone has their own brand.”
 

But customers say the savings is addictive.  "I went back and told everyone at my work and everyone from my work comes here now,” says Alanna Houghton of Everett.

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