Does it matter if the president smokes?
In the current anti-smoking mood in the United States where having a cigarette is banned just about everywhere that is public, how big of a deal is it if the president of the United States lights up once in a while?
The question puffed up on Sunday when President Barack Obama’s routine medical exam showed he was in good health but still struggling with the habit that last June he said was “95 percent cured.”
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama continues to chew nicotine gum and has quit smoking but occasionally falls off the wagon “like many who have struggled with kicking that habit. ”
Was it more difficult to quit because this was probably his most stressful year? “I can’t imagine that that helps,” Gibbs replied. Obama “continues to both work hard at it as well as struggle with it probably each and every day,” he said.
But there were no additional details like where does Obama get the cigarettes? (Think about it, he can’t just walk down to the nearest corner shop to buy a pack secretly). “I don’t smoke, so I don’t know the answer to that,” Gibbs said.
Also unknown to us is where does Obama actually go to smoke on those occasions when he falls off the wagon, since he doesn’t smoke in front of his children and he lives in a house full of people running around tending to the needs of the first family. There are balconies, a big backyard (although he’d probably be spotted there), and many nooks and crannies at the White House.
“I don’t doubt that he would tell you that he wishes once and for all he could wipe away that struggle. I know he works on it each and every day,” Gibbs said.
A New York Times story about Obama’s smoking, published when he was president-elect, also mentioned the habits of presidents before him. It said the last president to smoke more than occasionally was Gerald Ford who liked his pipe.
Does it matter to you whether a president smokes once in a while?
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Photo credits: Reuters/Daniel Munoz (man extinguishes cigarette in Australia), Reuters/Yuri Gripas (White House Oval Office in early morning)