Sept. 29, 2013— -- Historically, hand-rolling cigarettes was an economical alternative to purchasing commercial packs. But a new product has taken the ritual to a luxurious counterpoint and is attracting self-described ballers within the hip-hop community as well as other, ahem, high rollers.
Shine Papers are 24K rolling papers combining edible gold leaf with a slow-burning interior paper. Prices range from $55 to $60 for a pack of 12, depending upon whether they are purchased directly from the company or on Amazon.com.
"It's definitely not an everyday product because of the price point," said Shine Papers owner Dave D., who declined to provide a last name. "But the people who feel like they are that person are showing a lot of support for it and returning to reorder."
The papers are intended for use with cigars or legal smoking herbs, according to the company's website. But the Shine Papers Twitter profile strikes a different tone.
"Roll up on a party with 24K gold joints!" it reads.
Likewise, tweets and Instagram photos tagging Shine Papers indicate that not many customers are using the product to smoke St. John's wort or yerba.
Dave D., who operates his business out of offices in Charleston, S.C., and Las Vegas, told ABC News that he conceived of the idea for Shine Papers at the end of March 2013 with a friend at London Cut Cigars, which sells a $200 Dominican cigar wrapped in Connecticut Shade paper and 24K edible gold leaf.
"We moved quickly to figure out the process, prototyping it and preselling," he said, adding that production takes place overseas.
He estimated that he has sold to 20 different countries, with the majority of sales being conducted directly through the site.
But is smoking 24K gold rolling papers safe?
The American Lung Association told ABC News that it had no data on such a product and was unable to provide comment.
ABC News requests for comment from the Food and Drug Administration, which has yet to review the papers, did not receive an immediate response.
"There is very little research regarding inhaling gold particles," the Shine Papers site acknowledged, citing a Korean study from May 2011 in which rats were subjected to inhaling gold nanoparticles for six hours a day, five days a week, for 90 days in "a whole-body inhalation chamber."
That study concluded that "the levels of gold were not statistically significant in the severity of any adverse effects" on rats.
How long-term inhalation of gold particles may impact humans is not known.