November 21, 2008 in Nation/World

Obama’s hazy on smoking habit

By Steve Schmadeke Chicago Tribune

Has Obama kicked the habit?

On Thursday, as thousands of Americans, theoretically, gave up cigarettes for at least a day as part of the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout, some surely wondered if President-elect Barack Obama did the same.

Like other not-so-pressing Obama questions – the presidential dog, his daughters’ school, will Sen. Joe Biden actually wear the White Sox cap Obama gave him as a birthday gift Wednesday – Obama’s smoking status is unknown.

The 44th-president-to-be said in February 2007 that he’d followed his wife’s advice and quit. But on a talk show this February he said he was chewing Nicorette (“which tastes like … ground pepper”), a nicotine-infused gum typically used for about three months to alleviate nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

In June, Obama said it had been months since he’d last smoked but didn’t elaborate.

If he is still smoking on the sly, quitting now would be the healthiest choice, medical experts have pointed out. But when you’re facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and two ongoing wars, perhaps the president-elect could be forgiven the occasional puff.

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