White House victories are rare these days, but President Obama can claim solid progress in his lonely battle to quit smoking. The president has gone a full nine months without sneaking a cigarette, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reported Thursday.Every day is a struggle and there’s no guarantee the president won’t light up tomorrow, it seems. Still, for a president who has been trying to quit for years, the nine-month hiatus is a welcome sign that he’s breaking the addiction.
Obama still chews nicotine gum, which his doctors have advised. In a physical he had in March, Obama was pronounced fit but told to “continue smoking cessation efforts.” It was around the time of that medical exam that Obama smoked his last cigarette, according to the timetable laid out by Gibbs.
Smoking “is not something that he’s proud of,” Gibbs said at the daily White House press briefing. “He knows that it’s not good for him. He doesn’t like he. He doesn’t like children to know about it, obviously, including his.”
Quitting smoking is tough under any circumstances, but no more when one is simultaneously leading the free world. Amid North Korean provocations and WikiLeaks documents dumps, hardly a day goes by when a smoker might not be tempted to light up.
“I think he would tell you even when in the midst of a tax agreement and a START (nuclear treaty) deal, and all the other things that accumulate, that even where he might have once found some comfort in that, he’s pushed it away,” Gibbs said.
Few topics at the White House are as verboten as Obama’s smoking. Just as senior aides won’t reveal the president’s golf scores, they are loathe to admit they’ve seen him smoke.
Obama gets irritable when asked. At a news conference last year, the president bristled over what he termed a “cute” question to get him to reveal more about his smoking habits. He then confessed he had fallen off the wagon at times.