Sunday, June 28, 2009

President Obama is not the Marlboro Man

circa 1980 (photo by Lisa Jack)

"Was it really wise to try to arrest the economy's free fall, bring peace to the Middle East, fix healthcare, save GM, save Wall Street, stop global warming AND quit smoking? Most of my friends can't do any ONE of those things. He should go ahead and smoke."
~some blogger named Sam, as quoted in the L.A. Times last week, on President Obama's attempt at quitting smoking last fall.

If we hear one more incident of the media making a big, stinking deal about President Obama's smoking, will we need to reach for a cigarette? Probably.

Last Monday, Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which makes illegal the vile practice by tobacco companies of targeting kids as customers. Very cool. However at a press conference the next day, instead of asking questions relevant to the bill, the press bombarded him with questions about his own smoking.

McClatchy's Margaret Talev asked him how many cigarettes he smokes daily and whether he does it in front of anyone. The nerve! What's next, asking whether he wears boxers or briefs? The look on his face while being asked these inane questions is priceless. He probably wished he had a cigarette to ash on her head. He smoothly shot her down, making it obvious that journalistic nosiness in the guise of political reporting was not appreciated.

"You just think it's neat to ask me about my smoking, as opposed to [your question] being relevant to my new law. I constantly struggle with it. Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No. I don't do it in front of my kids, I don't do it in front of my family, and I would say that I am 95% cured, but there are times where . . . I mess up."

When I worked for the Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, he told me that nicotine is the most addictive alkaloid (chemical compound) known to man. "More addictive than heroin, or cocaine?" I asked him. "Yes," he replied definitively. Who knew?

President Obama has what's probably the most stressful job in the world. Whether he sneaks an occasional cigarette behind the organic garden or he's sucking down a pack of Marlboros each night when he walks Bo under the cover of darkness, is it any of our business? Besides, smoking while ruling the world seems to have worked out okay in the past (whereas Hitler and Mussolini were adamant non-smokers, go figure).

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

People quit when they are finally. really. ready. He's got bigger fires to put out and if smoking an occasional cigarette takes the edge off helps him keep his cool, let 'im smoke.