With all the hubub over cigarette taxes and smugglers and bans, the Times took a look today at a long forgotten fixture of most bars: the cigarette machine. Modern living hasn't taken too kindly to the machines, as New York City Department of Finance counted just three of the old fangled lever machines in the whole city. The only registered one in Manhattan is at Hell's Kitchen fixture J. Mac’s, whose owner says, "You can’t buy cigarettes around here. If my customers leave at night for cigarettes, they never come back."

But while the old, mechanical machines are on their way out, swankier machines are popping up all over the city. Naturally, they're expensive, too. At Karma in the East Village you can grab a pack for $14.25, over $3 more expensive than the average pack. The Department of Taxation and Finance gave out stickers for 1,238 machines in 2008, suggesting that the new vending machines may become a staple. But manufacturers say the meager profits aren't worth the hassle. A man at S&J Vendors said, “I don’t know if I want to be bothered anymore." Well, start stocking the machines with smuggled cigarettes and you might be in business.