Owner Mike Lewis brought low-priced Bond cigarettes to Longview in April, opening Smoke for Less at 1429 15th Ave. Customers pay to rent a RYO Filling Station to make 200 cigarettes in a carton, which Lewis said allows him to avoid paying hefty manufacturing taxes.

It takes about eight minutes for customers to pour the tobacco into the machines, load the tubes then wait for the machine to stuff the finished cigarettes with tobacco.

A carton at Smoke For Less costs about $30, varying with the tobacco blend. The cigarettes are cleaner than most store-bought brands, which often contain other chemicals, and cost about half as much, Lewis said.

The RYO machine, which cost $33,000, is in the back of the store. Up front, customers can sit in a reception area around a big-screen TV. On the walls, Lewis has hung a half dozen framed pictures of classic smokers. Humphrety Bogart into the camera and takes a drag in one picture, and Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra in their Rat Pack years laugh with cigarettes in hand in another.

Lewis, a custom home builder by trade, said he came to run the cigarette store almost by accident. His original plan was to help bankroll someone else’s plan to open the store, he said. But when his partner backed out, Lewis said he decided to move forward on his own, though he has no retail experience.

“I find myself enjoying the interactions with people. I like joking with people and giving them a bad time,” said Lewis, 56, a Vancouver resident.

Lewis hired Vickie Hernandez to run the store three days a week. Smoke for Less also sells cigarette holders, lighters and other tobacco-related products.

The RYO (Roll Your Own) filling stations are a nationwide franchise, with more than 1,000 in 35 states, according to the Ohio-based company. Because of high local and state taxes, the cost to roll a cigarette averages about one-third less than the traditional pre-manufactured smokes, according to RYO’s website.

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