A carton of discount cigarette online used to cost David Ogilbie about $65. Now, a similar carton costs him slightly less than $27.

Ogilbie, 49, of New Kensington, now rolls his own online cigarettes at Superior Smoke Shoppes LLC at the Heights Plaza Shopping Center in Harrison.

"I used to smoke cigarettes Marlboro," he said taking a puff of a freshly rolled cigarette, as the giant rolling machine spat out more. "These taste better, plus I don't have to light them 50,000 times."

Tim Carr, manager of Superior Smoke Shoppes, says customers tell the shop's staff what brand of cigarettes for sale they smoke cigarettes and the employees will try to blend loose tobacco to make the taste a close match.

All buy cigarette online rolled at the shop cost $26.70. This includes: smoking cigarettes tubes (the rolling paper for the tobacco and cigarette filter), the tobacco itself, and use of the rolling machine.

That's a far cry from the price tag of nearly $70 for a carton of Marlboros.

The rolling machine is a large contraption — about the size of a dual washer-dryer — that rounds the tobacco, inserts it in the rolled cigarette papers and drops them out at the bottom, much like a vending machine.

Because smokers who roll their own cigarettes, either at home as Handel does or in roll-your-own stores, aren't technically buying their smokes — they're buying the rolling papers and tobacco that make up the cigarettes store — they are able to avoid most state and federal excise taxes imposed on cigarettes.

The roll-your-own industry is heating up as states attempt to increase cigarette taxes, while loose cigar and multi-use tobacco remains relatively tax-free. There are several roll-your-own stores in the Pittsburgh area.

Government officials say they're losing tax money. In September, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau declared that shops with roll-your-own machines were manufacturers of tobacco products, a designation that would require them to get permits and pay taxes on the discount cigarettes produced.

While cheap cigarette online that a person rolls for personal use are exempt — and bulk tobacco already is taxed — the bureau said the personal-use exemption does not apply if the machine that rolls the cigarettes is under the control of a business.

However, that ruling has been challenged in a federal lawsuit filed by RYO, the machine vendor, and a roll-your-own shop in Fayette County.

The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking cigarettes account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

According to Carr, the cigarettes rolled at the shop are safer because they don't have additives, like off-the-shelf cigarettes.

"I don't think there's such a thing as a healthy cigarette," said Ogilbie, who has been smoking cigarettes for more than 20 years. "I think they're better because they're cheaper."

One customer said he has noticed a difference since he started smoking cigarettes cigarettes rolled at the shop.

"I cough a lot less," said Jerry McNally, 18, of Harrison.

McNally said he used to smoke cigarettes Marlboro and the cigarettes he rolls taste the same.

Off-the-shelf cigarettes contain nearly 600 additives such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia.

At Smoker Friendly in Pine Township, manager Dyanna Coholich said roll-your-own has become more popular since the federal government increased a per-pack levy on cigarettes by 62 cents to $1 in 2009 and the state increased the tax on cigarettes from $1.35 to $1.60 per pack last year.

While Smoker Friendly doesn't have the automatic rolling machines, the store with a smoking cigarettes lounge, cigar humidor and pipe room does sell manual cigarette-making machines.

Coholich, who recently earned the designation of certified retail tobacconist from the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, said smokers can roll a carton of 200 cigarettes in about an hour. Despite the time spent making cigarettes, the cheapest manual machine costs $8, which saves customers money in the long run.

"It's definitely an area of the business that's thriving right now," she said. "Rolling your own makes smoking cigarettes more economical."