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Bay City business gives cigarette smokers a break

With Michigan’s workplace smoking ban set to take effect May 1, Bay City business owner Brian Ross hopes he can give cigarette smokers reason to celebrate.

Ross has opened Let’s Roll Tobacco, a tobacco smoking lounge and shop in Bangor Township that he’s equipped with two $31,000 automated machines to roll low-cost smokes.

While name-brand cigarettes cost $55 or more a carton, Ross offers use of the machines, tobacco (either ultra light, light or full flavor) and filters for $25 plus sales tax.

“It’s really cool. I mean, especially for people with the economy and people wanting to save money,” said Ross, 29, a smoker himself.

The machines weigh out the tobacco selected by the customer, then compress and inject it into empty paper tubes to create each cigarette.

“We guarantee them 190 cigarettes and it takes eight minutes to roll them,” Ross said. “Everybody that rolls their own does it and hates the fact that it takes so long to do it and that they’re paying the extra money for the time they’re sitting there — an hour for a carton.”

The machines, called RYO Filling Stations, are a new phase in rolling cigarettes, according to Phil Accordino, president of the Ohio-based RYO Machine Rental Inc.

“The only difference between this and a hand table top model is that it’s much more precise and a little bit faster,” said Accordino, who has patents pending on the filling stations. “The table top models have been around for so long the patents have actually expired … They have been constantly working on improving the apparatus.”

Ross is one of about six stores in Michigan to have the filling stations, according to Accordino.

Ross said smokers who buy manufactured cigarettes can save about 50 percent by “renting,” or using, his rolling stations in the store at 3968 Wilder.

Ross, offers customers a sample cigarette to make sure they like the specific tobacco blend before they buy. He hopes the idea catches on and he can expand into other locations.

By Andrew Dodson, The Bay City Times

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