Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Obama's Smoking Is A Hot Topic
President Barack Obama yesterday signed the nation's strongest anti-smoking bill ever and praised it for providing critically needed protections for kids. At a White House news conference today, the President's own smoking was a hot topic. In between fielding questions dealing with the unrest in Iran, the fate of the economy, and the perils of global warming, Obama admitted that he still smokes occasionally, and that it is an ongoing battle. "As a former smoker, I constantly struggle with it," said Obama. "Have I fallen off the wagon with it? Yes." Obama added, however, that he never smokes in front of his two young daughters and not on a daily basis. During the presidential campaign, Obama occasionally bummed cigarettes from aides, but was never photographed by the media and made sure to emphasize he was working on getting his habit under control. Today, Obama that he is "95% cured," after a reporter asked about his struggle kicking the habit. As to the legitimacy of the question, the president brushed it off, saying "I understand...It's an interesting human interest story." He didn't see however, how it was relevant to the new law, but, in order to satisfy the media's quest for instant gratification on the subject, he wasted time talking about his own struggles. "There are times where I mess up...I get this question about once every month or so. And, you know, I don't know what to tell you, other than the fact that, you know, like folks who go to A.A., you know, once you've gone down this path, then it's something you continually struggle with, which is precisely why the legislation we signed was so important. Because what we don't want is kids going down that path in the first place." The President didn't explain where exactly he lights up, but since he doesn't do it in front of his family, and the media hasn't witnessed him smoking, it seems that the question asked of him was unnecessary. The sweeping new legislation passed yesterday giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco was a major step in protecting children. Obama has said he got hooked on cigarettes as a teenager, and as he signed the bill in the White House Rose Garden yesterday, he said "The decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco has emerged victorious." That should be the story, not Obama's own struggle with nicotine. He is, after all, a role model for children. Why complicate the issue?