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Budget plan gives excuse to light up

One of the ways the president hopes to have a balanced budget is by putting a $1.50 tax on cigarettes - as well as levying fines on tobacco companies to get the United States well.

If Clinton has his way, Americans will have to smoke 1.3 trillion cigarettes just to break even.The question arises as to how many Americans must continue smoking - or, worse still, go back to smoking - to balance the bud-get.

It has been the policy of this administration, as well as previous ones, to discourage the use of tobacco, particularly among teen-agers.

But now the economic salvation of the country may need to take priority over poor health and misdemeanors.

To raise revenue from taxes, the government will have to kill all the no-smoking regulations in regards to public places.

The Marlboro Man might appear on dollar bills and 32-cent postage stamps. Joe Camel could show up on White House billboards.

If the president hopes to accomplish his goal, he might get Chelsea to start smoking, and when he is seen publicly with Hillary he could light two cigarettes and hand one to her.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright might light up a cigar during the State of the Union address, and sample packs of cigarettes would be handed out to our armed forces on land, sea and in the air.

Clinton does not necessarily have to come out for smoking. But he will send a message to the nation that the more they puff the larger the budget surplus will be.

It's obvious the tobacco companies are in a dither that their product was selected to give the United States financial security, but a government official said, "We had to tax either nicotine or arsenic."

The president of one of the largest tobacco companies said, "What is good for R.J. Reynolds is good for America. And this tax is no good."

But the budget office was elated. "It is a social thing," an OMB spokesman said. "For several years now people have looked on smokers as pariahs. Now when you see someone smoking on the sidewalk, you know he is doing it to pay for his mother's Social Security."