WASHINGTON--President Obama at first tried to deflect some specific questions about his smoking habits on Tuesday, protesting the focus should be more on Obama's signing of anti-smoking legislation.
Then he relented, saying he realized his struggle was a "human interest" story. He's only "95 percent" quit and, comparing himself to alcoholics who attend life long AA meetings, said there was no permanent cure. "Once you've gone down this path, then you know, it's something you continually struggle with," Obama said.
Obama, at his fourth press conference gave his most detailed answer since his election on his struggle to quit smoking. In order to win her support for his presidential bid, Obama agreed to Michelle Obama's demand that he quit smoking if he got in the race.
A smoker since a teen Obama was asked, 'How many cigarettes a day do you now smoke? Do you smoke alone or in the presence of other people? And do you believe the new law would help you to quite? If so, why?"
Replied Obama to McClatchy reporter Margaret Talev, "Well, the -- first of all, the new law that was put in place is not about me. It's about the next generation of kids coming up. So I think it's fair, Margaret, to just say that you just think it's neat to ask me about my smoking, as opposed to it being relevant to my new law. But that's fine. I understand. It's a interesting human -- it's a interesting human-interest story.
"Look, I've said before that as a former smoker, I constantly struggle with it. Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. The -- am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No. I don't do it in front of my kids. I don't do it in front of my family. And you know, I would say that I am 95 percent cured. But there are times where -- there are times where I mess up. And I mean, I've said this before.
"I get this question about once every month or so. And you know, I don't know what to tell you, other than the fact that, you know, like folks who go to AA, you know, once you've gone down this path, then you know, it's something you continually struggle with, which is precisely why the legislation we signed was so important, because what we don't want is kids going down that path in the first place," Obama said.