The price of smokes just got lower in Portland, and the number of smokers, particularly teenagers, is sure to rise.

The Hollywood Liquor Store in Northeast Portland installed Oregon’s first RYO Filling Station machine on Tuesday, an automated cigarette-rolling device that enables the store to offer cigarettes at half the normal price.

Customers buy sacks of loose pipe tobacco and cigarette tubes with filters. They place the tubes inside the $30,000-plus RYO Filling Station, about the size of a squat vending machine, then drop tobacco into a chute at the top.

The machine blows the tobacco into the tubes, then rolled cigarettes tumble out the bottom about once every two seconds, or a full carton in eight minutes.

The state-licensed liquor store has an introductory price of $29.95 for the roll-your-own cigarettes, but expects to sell them eventually for $34.95 a carton.

“This is going to take off,” says store owner Dan Miner. “The equivalent cigarette I’m selling for $6.25 a pack, or $62.50” for a carton.

A pack-a-day smoker could save $83 a month.

Miner hopes to buy several more machines and then open six to eight discount cigarette stores in Portland within six months. The machines also are spreading quickly in other states.

But the exciting news for smokers is not so welcome for those concerned about peoples’ health and government services.

Cigarettes made via the RYO Filling Stations are so cheap because pipe tobacco is taxed at a much lower rate than regular cigarettes. Critics and federal regulators say the proprietors are taking advantage of a loophole in federal law, and the issue is now in court.

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