My Hill Country correspondent says quitting smoking is easy compared to quitting bragging about it when you do. That makes a lot of sense to me. Although I am currently involved in the first stage of quitting, Iím still a long way from bragging. I might, though.

At the urging of at least three doctors, I am trying to comply with their threat ó uh, wishes, I mean. Itís about as easy as putting a raw oyster in a parking meter. I admit, Iím using a crutch in the form of a small pill which is supposed to stop any urge I might have to spend $4 for a pack of cigarettes.

Since this little pill affects the brain, one requirement is that the user has to have one. I assume that an IQ of at least 40 is required. I may possibly be close to being borderline on that. The pill contains no nicotine. After all, why take something that hooked you to start with.

When I informed one doctor that I had been smoking since the first tobacco plants were introduced in Virginia, he became interested in my mental history. Being a ball turret gunner on a bomber during World War II didnít help my case any. Nobody in their right mind would have done that.

These days, it seems that everybody and their dogs are trying to stop everybody from smoking. Even the government, which during World War II influenced us to smoke in the first place. Cigarettes were either free, depending where you were, or a nickel a pack.

In every K-ration box we carried on our missions, was a pack of four cigarettes. I donít think they meant us to eat them.

Entire cities are going smoke-free, even in the bars. For the first time in history, a man can be thrown out of a bar for smoking. Prior to this madness, it was necessary to shoot somebody.

Iím wondering when alcohol will be banned again. After all, excessive use of alcohol has killed a lot of people and like tobacco, it is legal. Drink all you want in a bar, but donít smoke.

Can you imagine a police report that says, ďWe believe the cause of the accident was excessive smoking. We found an opened pack of Camels in the car.Ē

I believe it is an individualís right to smoke if he or she chooses to do so. I donít think the government, federal or city, should be able to infringe on that right. Anybody who wasnít born under a rock and stayed there knows the health hazards of smoking. We do not need to be beaten over the head with this knowledge on an hourly basis.

Somebody sent me a cartoon on the Internet. It showed an old man, about 90, humped over on a doctorís examining table. He looked awful. The doctor is saying, ďRemember when you got on that health kick and stopped all your bad habits so you could live 20 years longer?

ďWell, these are them.Ē

We do not live in a perfect world. We never have and we never will. We try to do the best we can with what weíve got in spite of government interference and do-gooders on every corner getting stupid laws passed to further their cause, whatever it might be.

Still, our part of the world, with all its faults is the best place on earth. Do not forget it and donít allow anybody to ruin it.

Harry Marlinís column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletinís Viewpoint page. E-mail him at