The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent. It was first broadcast on May 22, 2005.
Every once in a while, there's some good news. Half as many Americans smoke cigarettes now, compared to the number who used to smoke them, and that's good news.
The percentage of high school kids smoking is lower than it's ever been.
An interesting thing about smoking statistics, 42 percent of those who don't graduate from high school smoke, but only 12 percent of college graduates smoke.
People with graduate degrees smoke least of all — 7 percent of them. In other words, if I can say this without offending anyone, the dumbest people smoke the most. Maybe it would be politically correct to say "the smartest people smoke the least."
American tobacco companies are pushing lung cancer in foreign countries now.
That's how to win friends for the United States, isn't it?
How would you like to be in the ashtray business now that no one wants anyone smoking around them? My mother always had ashtrays around.
A beautiful Steuben crystal ashtray was on the coffee table in our living room for 35 years.
There was an ashtray on every table in every restaurant. Mexican restaurant. Bookbinders in Philadelphia. The famous Stork Club in New York.
My father brought home a silver cigarette box from Japan in 1930.
They handed out matchbooks everywhere with advertising. Salem Cigarettes, Marriott Hotels. The Harbor Motor Hotel in Steamboat Springs.
Actors like Humphrey Bogart used cigarettes as a prop — and Bette Davis, Jackie Gleason on 60 Minutes.
Some smokers kept their distance with cigarette holders. Some little beauties are made of ivory. An elephant died for a smoker.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt made one model famous. He looked great with his cigarette holder.
Most people kept the pack in their pocket but some smokers put them in silver cases. Some leather cases have the owner's initials. Why would you put your initials on a cigarette case?
Lighters were more fun to play with than matches. That's what you gave a smoker for Christmas — a cigarette lighter. A Ronson was on most living room coffee tables.
The most famous lighter was the Zippo. Soldiers always carried Zippos in World War II. They worked better than matches in the mud.
The inescapable fact that smoking causes lung cancer has obviously had a big effect on cigarette sales, but I think there's another reason, too. We bought these Marlboros to have on my desk. A carton cost us $75. Who can afford to burn tobacco at those prices?
Written By Andy Rooney
Copyright 2005 CBS. All rights reserved.