Is President Obama a Quitter?

Julie Marsh

President Obama has quit smoking. According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the president hasn't had a cigarette in nine months. Cancer sticks, begone!

Like most people, I was baffled by the president's smoking habit. Besides healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle in general, he's also quite an athlete. Smoking is a square peg in a lifestyle like his.

But hey, what do I know? I'm an alcoholic who does triathlons.

We all have those habits that don't mesh with the rest of who we are, and any habit is tough to kick, but especially those which we've practiced for decades. Quitting can take a few tries, which is why I expect it's taken the White House nine months to comment on the status of the president's smoking habit.

Bad habits are generally perceived as weaknesses, too, and failed attempts at quitting elevate that perceived weakness even further. Think of how hard it is to quit a bad habit; now imagine doing it with the whole country -- no, the whole world -- watching you.

Do I think he's really quit? Yes. He wouldn't have authorized Gibbs to comment affirmatively on it otherwise. Furthermore, it's fairly impossible to conceal smoking. I know people who think their nasty little habit is a big secret, but it's not. I can smell that odor yards away, and so can other non-smokers.

Seriously -- when I go out running in my neighborhood, I know exactly which houses are home to folks who step onto their deck to smoke. We're at 5,900 feet elevation, people. We need all the oxygen we can get.

Congratulations, Mr. President. Thank you for setting a good example, both in terms of your own health and in your determination to successfully kick a bad habit. 


Image via jurvetson/Flickr

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