The Old Coot violates his own oath

There oughta be a law! We say that a lot, us Americans. Every time an irritating social situation slaps us in the face. There oughta be a law was a popular comic strip written by Al Fagaly and Harry Shorten back in the 1950’s. They took suggestions from the public on what, “Oughta be a law.” Unfortunately, the concept of enacting laws to fix “everything” became a reality and now we are buried in rules, regulations, and worse of all, political correctness that stifles our human nature at every turn.

Smoking has been the focus of considerable regulation and social manipulation. But, one aspect has been omitted. Cigarette butts! “There oughta be a law,” that forces the tobacco companies to make biodegradable filters. Those butts lie strewn along our roads and public areas. You can’t avoid them. When our Rotary club cleans up the stretch of roadway along Route 434 near the Owego Bridge the butts (filters) make it impossible to do a good job. Old coots like me can bend over and snag an occasional empty beverage can, the wrappings from a MacDonald’s lunch, a plastic jug and other debris, but trying to gather up the cigarette butts is near impossible. That many “bend-overs” in a short period of time has serious physical consequences. We get the big mess and sigh about the butts we’re forced to leave behind.

So, in violation of the old coot oath, where I promised to urge the repealing of laws and regulations, not the enactment of new ones, I now do the opposite and ask you to write your congressmen and women and beg them to regulate cigarette filters, to make them biodegradable. So they’ll disappear on their own. Besides, they don’t filter anything. Look what happened to the Marlboro Man. He smoked filtered Marlboros and died of lung cancer. (Actually, there were several Marlboro Men. They all died of lung cancer.)

And, while you’re at it (writing to your representatives in congress about the ill effects of cigarette butts on society) you might suggest they rein in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose repulsive anti-smoking ads on TV create worse pollution than the smoke they’re trying to eliminate. The ads don’t work anyway. I know, all us ex smokers know, that people lecturing you about the ill effects of smoking is like saying it’s cold in winter. “Duh,” they already know that. It’s just very, very, very hard to quit. The ads aren’t the most obnoxious anti-smoking thing going on; the places that have a sign at their entrance that says, “This is a smoke free campus,” and then treat all the passers-by to a view of smokers huddled in the cold, just off the so called campus. It’s a feel good policy that has no redeeming value. Create a place to smoke “on campus” out of the public view and help your employees to quit instead of treating them like second-class citizens. There oughta be a law!

Old Coot “Little” books are available at Riverow Bookshop, Owego.

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