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Editorial: Obama's Habit

Seeking an ex-smoker in chief


Like millions of Americans, President-elect Obama knows how hard it is to quit an addiction - in his case, cigarettes - and break the habit for good.

The temptation to backslide is strong, particularly in stressful times such as these.


Meet the Press

on Sunday, Obama acknowledged that he had "fallen off the wagon" in his effort to beat a reported two-decade smoking habit. But he vowed that in the White House, he would not violate its no-smoking rules. Still, that is no guarantee he might not find himself sneaking into the Rose Garden from time-to-time for a puff or two.

Smoking is blamed for one in five deaths in this country and costs billions in health care. While millions quit annually, Big Tobacco, in particular, targets minorities and teens to replace them.

Look no further than the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings to see the deadly pull of cigarettes.

Jennings had quit smoking for 20 years when, under the stress of covering the 9/11 attacks, he lit up again. Just months after announcing he had lung cancer, Jennings died in August 2005.

With New Year's almost upon us, and quitting bound to top many a resolution list, the nation's smokers - and possibly future ones - might be expected to turn their eyes to Obama.

And here, we hope, the president-elect will - with the loving encouragement of his wife and daughters, no doubt - set an example that will lead him and other Americans to healthier living.