SMITHFIELD — The price increase for cigarettes is turning into a gold mine for some tobacco retailers. Taxes or not, smokers are willing to work a little harder for their habit.
Call it a statement against higher taxes. Many smokers are going back to homemade cigarettes thanks to the federal government's tax hike.
You still pay the tax, but you pay less for the materials. Mark Ryan's tobacco mail order business in Smithfield is working overtime to fill all the new orders.
"When the cigarette prices went up, my business literally doubled in a day, and they're looking for cigarettes that are economical and high value. I'm hoping that I fill that niche," said Ryan.
Ryan says he can sell you the materials to make your own smokes at home for about a third of what you would pay for those made at the factory.
The new rolling papers look like standard cigarettes, and they are ready in seconds.
"Then the last bit of the motion actually stuffs the tube, and that gives you a finished cigarette as fast as that," said Ryan.
From an office building in Smithfield, Ryan and his four person crew fill orders that go all over the world.
One Montana man bought a 30 pound order. Ryan says his Web page took in more than two month's worth of hits the day after the new tax took effect.
"That tells me that people have had it with paying too much for their cigarettes, and they are looking for an alternative. Fortunately for us, they've found it. They found our company," Ryan said.
Ryan's D&R Tobacco company is shipping up to 200 pounds a day right now, making it a growing segment of a shrinking market.
Ryan says business is so good right now, he may have to hire new workers soon to fill all the orders.
He buys all of his tobacco from North Carolina suppliers.