Yesterday my 7-year-old daughter, Anya, was wearing a T-shirt I’d never seen before. It was a Barack Obama shirt. I asked where it came from. She said that someone gave it to her back in the fall, after he was elected. But why finally wear it now?

Well, the kids are on spring break and Anya had a chance to visit one of our favorite New York institutions, Economy Candy, which happened to be featured this week in a Times article about how candy sales are rising in these tough times.

At Economy, Anya discovered a new treat that is now her favorite: candy cigarettes. (Frankly, I am surprised that some well-meaning zealot hasn’t gotten them banned.) She apparently spent an hour or two observing smokers on the street to get their moves down pat.

So yesterday morning, when she woke up, she thought of herself as a smoker. Cool! And who’s the most famous smoker she knows? Our president, of course. On went the shirt.

I have no idea if Obama has given up smoking or not. But considering how much he admires Abe Lincoln, he might want to think about Anya’s choice of T-shirt as the equivalent of little Grace Bedell‘s letter urging Lincoln to grow a beard.

Every schoolchild in America seems to have watched his inauguration; Obama doesn’t really want them to think of him first and foremost as a smoker, does he?


I am not smoker, but I saw the stress that my father and several relatives went through went they quit smoking. With all the stress currently on the President, I think people should cut him some slack on his smoking.

Michael Haren

I was surprised to hear he was a smoker when I heard about it on NPR. They said that he never allows himself to be photographed while smoking--for the kids, I guess.

They also joked that we should let him have this simple vice. With so much pressure, and so much power, if that's what he turns to, we're in good shape.


My parents were horrified when, aged 5, I told them I was "thinking about quitting smoking today" at breakfast - I'd been copying the shearers on the farm and going behind the sheds for a smoke. After the general panic subsided, they asked me to show them what I meant. What I was doing was just holding cigarettes and mimicking their behaviour, and then copying adult conversations about quitting.

I am not sure that younger children make the President Obama - smoking link, but rather that your President needs to set an example for the adults who smoke in front of children.

I think that the power of suggestion, whereby children imitate adults in all their vices, is the real issue here, however subtle the distinction.


If I'm not mistaken, Michelle and he made a deal that if he were to run for president, he would have to quit smoking. Actually, I believe this was well-publicized.


I was surprised that they still sold candy cigarettes when I was a kid (late 80s), and I'm still surprised they're still around. I guess the anit-smoking people are too busy making commercials featuring people who have to talk through a hole their throat.


No, probably not, but children tend to be focus on superficial details. Good thing adults don't do that...

Jerry Myers

Please God! Don't let him stop now or the whole Western World will fall!

Scott Supak

The story I read said the only way Michelle would agree to a presidential run was if he quit smoking, which he says he did.

I'm pretty sure many states have banned candy cigs. I used to get them off the ice cream truck when I was a kid, and I wound up smoking for 20 years. Quitting was the hardest thing I ever did, so I certainly hope he got that over with before adding all this new stress to his life.

Catherine Burns

The well-meaning zealots are mobilizing. Apparently, a bill was passed in Nassau County to force candy retailers to keep candy cigarettes behind the counter.

Anti-smoking lobbyist

The president's smoking habit is disgusting. Not only that, but smoke breaks generally lead to lower productivity as people step away from their desks for 15 minutes at a time, several times a day.

I would recommend the president take up a more productive vice, like crystal methamphetamine. Imagine how much more productive he'd be if he didn't have to sleep for days on end!


I certainly hope that, for the sake of a few anxious parents, the only man on Earth with authority over the United States nuclear arsenal, the most devastating military force in the history of man, in addition to the other thousand natural shocks that Presidential flesh is heir to, is being aggravated by a desire for a forbidden cigarette.

Ben D

It is sad that even someone as strong as Obama has trouble controlling the nicotine addition. The lesson, kids, is obviously: don't start in the first place.


I heard about the quitting pact, but I also heard he was prone to sneaking them on the trail because of the stress. A lot of smokers regress when faced with large amounts of stress.

@#5 - I know exactly what you're saying. Even more galling to me are the commercials I have seen, only since I moved to New York (they did not have these in Maryland, which is almost as zealously anti-smoking as NYC) featuring photos of lung and throat cancers as well as babies affected by mothers smoking while pregnant. Look, I understand that these things happen. But I am not a smoker. And I resent being subjected to these images when all I really want to do is watch a baseball game or whatever in peace. It's jarring to the nerves.


As I recall, Bill Clinton liked cigars.


He and Michelle made the deal on quitting by the election, but he did not make it. As of the election, the last time I saw any coverage on the matter, he had not yet managed to quit. He is a strong man, but to quit smoking while running for president would have been an amazing feat, quitting while president would be impressive as well. In spite of the country's obsession with enforcing behavior changes on people, the president does a good job of keeping the habit out of sight and it seems it should be left to the leader of the free world to decide if he wants to partake in a wholly legal activity or not.


Beside being a super-natural, myth-like hero Obama is still a human being. So let him destroy his lungs if he want and even if he didn't quit smoking... who cares? He's doing good at not allowing to photograph him while smoking and I don't think that anyone nowadays believes "uh if the president is smoking, it simply can not be that harmful"

ps: I don't smoke, given that I don't drink


You buy your 7 year old kid (or allow her to buy) candy cigarettes and you want to lay some blame on Obama because she now identifies herself as a smoker?



@#8: I certainly hope your anecdote isn't suggesting that the candy cigs were what caused you to smoke for 20 years, because that is just ridiculous.

Cut Obama a break. No one is perfect, and cigarettes do not automatically transform an individual into a deviant.


Candy cigarette induce kids to smoke ? You must be kidding - or smoking something barely legal.


No. 17 - The crux of the matter, indeed. Parallel: If the governmnet convinces taxpayers to quit, there will be no revenue from increased cig taxes, either.