The Best of Andy Rooney

There are two stories in the paper that make me mad. The first says American billionaires ought to donate half of everything they make to charity. Frankly, the capitalist system we have works best for the most people.

The second story I don't agree with says the tax on a pack of cigarettes is going up $1.60. That's for one pack. The tax on a pack in New York State will go from $4.25 be $5.85. A pack could cost $11 on July 1. The cost of one cigarette will be about 55 cents. If I smoked I don't think I could stand to watch my money burn. It's ridiculous anyway. A carton of cigarettes could cost $110. If you smoke a carton a week, cigarettes will run you $5,720 a year.

Now tell me this. Why don't they simply make cigarettes illegal? I don't smoke and never have, but if I smoked I'd be plenty mad. My attitude would be, "It's none of your damn business. Cigarettes may kill me, but it's my life, not yours."

Marijuana and heroin are illegal substances. If tobacco is bad for us, we should make cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco illegal, too.

I don't know what smokers would do will all their pipes. I think pipe smokers are usually nice, thoughtful people. I used to smoke a pipe but I gave it up.

There are many other substances that aren't very good for you. I have a drink of alcohol with the news every night before dinner, and I suppose it would be nice if I gave that up, but don't wait for the day. It's incredible how important alcohol is to our economy. My grandfather thought anyone who used it was headed for trouble. I may be headed for trouble but I've got a few drinks ahead of me before I get there. Our cocktail hour is one of the high points of our day.

Chewing tobacco is the most disgusting use of an undesirable commodity. I don't know exactly what it is that makes something as unattractive as tobacco so attractive but they ought to try to capture it and put it in something less offensive.

My father smoked several cigars a day and my mother didn't like it but she liked Dad and never made an issue of it. Smoking cigars was just something my father did. No one in our house ever smoked cigarettes and I thought of cigars as the lesser of two evils.

The coach of my high school football team didn't smoke and he had a big and good effect on the players. He let us know he didn't think it was right to smoke and we believed him. I'm sure there are a lot of my classmates who didn't smoke because a long time ago Coach Morris convinced them smoking was wrong.

I understand the addictive aspects of lighting up a long, thin strip of tobacco and sucking on it while it burns. My mother grew up before women smoked, but my sister was growing up when it became fashionable for girls to smoke cigarettes. My sister had a good friend named Cornelia whom I liked until I found out she smoked.

Maybe the billionaires should consider donating half of their money to help smokers kick the habit.

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