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?


This is a parenting issue, not a presidential issue.


frankly who cares?? Churchill was a smoker, so was Helmut Schmidt, the last half decent chancellor of Germany and Hitler wasn't. In fact, he didn't drink and was a vegetarian.
No, seriously...what do you care?


Not surprisingly, they are trying to ban candy cigarettes:


"Obama doesn't really want them to think of him first and foremost as a smoker, does he?"

He can't control what you think, that was the last guy's thing.


The last time I checked, smoking was legal. If the President indulges... who cares? Unlike many other substances , it won't impact his ability to make critical decisions. And if he develops a smoking-related disease (such as cancer or emphysema), he should be well retired.
The last time I checked, in this country, we celebrate the value of freedom to make our own decisions (bad or not).


I'd think that we would allow someone with one of the most stressful jobs available his vice. We ask that the president lead effectively, not that he be a perfect person as well. He is human, after all.

Robert Morrison

I would hope that her father would have more influence over her decision to smoke or not than a man she has never met before.
TV and movies are cultural inputs, sure, but parents are the people who shape their children the most.


I love this country -- politics aside, if he's not causing harm to others (and i understand he takes it outside), he has the legal right, and should defend it. (and this from a non-smoking fiscal hawk, natch!)


#25, thank you for finally stating the obvious!

Our president is supposed to run our country - not provide a model of the wholesome, 1950, Leave-it-to-Beaver father!

And even if he were, if his vice is private smoking, outside the company of children, that's still a whole lot better than the other scandalous things other Presidents have done.


Cigarette smokers live in their own smelly purgatory. We don't need outside judgements to tell us that it's bad. Smoke up, Obama. It's up to parents to teach their kids the consequences of their actions. Besides, he keeps it mostly to himself, doesn't he?


I always thought that said something about Obama's mental state and willpower.


Up here in Ontario, I haven't seen candy cigarettes in *years* - the exact same product is now called "candy sticks."


Given the stress and strain of the job, I hope our president doesn't change his use of nicotine as a stress reduction device.

In fact, I hope he greatly accelerates his use; At this point President Biden doesn't sound quite as scary as it used to.


Don't worry about the your daughter picking up a smoking habit from the candy cigarettes.

They were a favorite of mine as well, as a child, but now, it's several decades away from those days, and I never smoked.

I do however, have a wicked sweet tooth.

Another View

I hope President Obama has really given up smoking. He wants to live to see his grandchildren, after all, doesn't he? For whatever reason, folks of African heritage tend not to live as long as others, so to engage in activities that might make matters worse, never mind the stress of his office, is just, no pun intended, playing with fire. Let's hope he won't be setting another example, that of going to the grave earlier than is necessary.

As for the rest of the smokers, why not subsidize smoking cessation treatments and products? The cure should cost considerably less than the habit, to provide more of an incentive to quit.


Mr. Obama surely is smart enough to understand that smoking will, eventually, kill him. That said, give it a rest. I hadn't smoked for seven years, but when my wife (now former) told me "we have to talk," I told her to hold that thought, ran down to the 7-11 and bought a deck of smokes. Those babies probably saved me from a murder charge, alcoholism, or both. When I no longer needed the crutch, I quit again. The President will, too.

Bill in Florida

Its not surprising Obama hasn't been able to quit. Cigarettes are addicting. Only 10% of smokers are able to quit. Cigarette smoking is still an epidemic that we all pay for, benefiting only big tobacco.

And 90% of smokers started before age 18. Hey, lets make some candy syringes. Then our kids can pretend to be drug addicts too: innocent play.


I have to confess I am grad student under enormous pressure, not only with school but my parents complete free fall in the california real estate market. I quit smoking years ago, but took it up again recently and confess some of my rationalization was that hey, our president smokes and a lot people cut him slack due to stress. A lot of my reasons for quitting was not the health issues per se, but the social stigma and I think that Obama's smoking diluted that somewhat. my two cents


This, as far as I can tell, is an excellent argument for the media to back off and stop over-reporting the personal details of the President and other leaders. He's human, with human failings, and if he spent all his energy trying to be a good role model he'd drive himself crazy, the country into the ground, and probably still wouldn't measure up to some people's standards.


Nothing like the subject of cigarettes and smoking to bring out the helicopters.

Couple of responses to comments above:

The 15 minute break thing and lower productivity is b-u-n-k. Might have been so when the majority of the labor force worked in factories, but it is not so. That argument is as old as the hills and is no longer being used in positive and progressive non-smoking materials.

Someone as strong as Obama,...." it matters little whether one is strong or weak; the addictive process does not discriminate.