Barack Obama is the President of the United States and whether or not he plans to quit smoking is not our business. If you spend more than half a second caring about the Presidents smoking habit, or lack thereof, you should be hauled off into a darkened dungeon and shot for attempting to create an Idiocracy (read: High Treason). The consistent reports of people feeling that he needs to set such a healthy example for children is absolutely absurd.
It doesn’t matter if the President smokes a cigarette. If Obama can create peace in the Middle East, I’ll be the first person offering him a smoke and a light. This man is the President, and if he wants to smoke a cigarette because Congress has been dragging it’s fat, lethargic ass on some issue of national importance, you should turn a blind eye. He’s not a child, he’s not your boyfriend, he’s the President and you should excuse him as he’s been busy saving our overly critical asses from psychotic religious fundamentalists who want nothing more than to curb-stomp the civil liberties and personal freedoms you’re taking for granted.
There’s more than 200 years of tradition behind Presidents smoking in the White House. Maddison, Grant, FDR, and JFK were avid smokers. Hell, Grant smoked so much that people actually mailed him cigars when they heard that he was smoking a cigar during the Battle of Fort Donelson. In fact, Grant’s smoking habit was so prominent that it was used as a campaign theme. Due to FDR’s triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13, he believed it to be bad luck to light 3 cigarettes with one match and even chastised a man in Hyde Park for doing so. On the eve of the Cuban embargo, Kenndy had an aide purchase nearly 1,200 H. Upmann Petit Coronas. Even Nixon, who wasn’t a regular smoker, would ritualisticly smoke a cigar with other forgien leaders in a gesture of respect.
Smoking used to be as American as apple pie. It was customary to offer guests a cigarette after a meal, and American Presidents were no different. The Eisenhower’s, in continuing a tradition started by Elanor Roosevelt, would offer coffee and cigarettes to their guests after meals. There were ashtrays, cigarettes and matchbooks embossed with the Presidential Seal, thanks to the Kennedy’s. They were complimentary for guests of the White House, Air Force One, Marine One, with each pack having a location specific engraving. It wasn’t until 1988 that Presidential Cigarettes were discontinued, and later prohibited in the White House by First Lady Hillary Clinton, “because of the atmosphere…and the age of the house, [and] the furnishings.” (a)
While I would certainly love to fault the extreme irony in relation to the Clinton’s and their use of tobacco in the White House, I have to reluctantly admit, that in keeping with the preservation of historical artifacts, we should continue to enforce the indoor smoking ban in the White House. Despite this, however, whether or not the President smokes really isn’t any of the public’s business. The transparency of government shouldn’t necessarily go so far as to tell the President how he is allowed to literally live his personal life. I don’t care what kind of cigarettes Obama smokes, whether or not he uses condoms, or if he prefers apples to oranges, and neither should you because it doesn’t really matter. If the man wants to smoke a cigarette once in awhile, that’s fine because there are far more important things to obsess over than the message he is sending to children when he smokes. If your kid sees the President smoking, tell them the truth: “The President just saved the damn world, but that still doesn’t make it O.K. for you kids to smoke.”
(a) BURROS, MARIAN , Hillary Clinton’s New Home: Broccoli’s In, Smoking’s Out, The New York Times, February 2, 1993
(b) Anthony, Carl Sferrzza, Our Presidents and Cigars: A White House Tradition is in Danger of Disappearing,Cigar Aficionado, Autumn 1993,
(c) “Alex”, Presidential Superstitions, Neatorama, March 10, 2008,