President Obama Invokes Own Struggle With Cigarettes as He Signs Tobacco Bill

By Caitlin Taylor

Jun 22, 2009 2:43pm

“Each day, 1,000 young people under the age of 18 become new regular, daily smokers, and almost 90 percent of all smokers began at or before their 18th birthday,” President Obama said this afternoon as he prepared to sign a bill granting authority over tobacco products to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I know; I was one of these teenagers,” the president said. “And so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time.”

Though he promised his wife as a condition of his running for president that he would quit the vile weed tobacco, the president has struggled with smoking. During the campaign he admitted falling off the tobacco wagon a few times.

Asked earlier this month if the President had smoked cigarettes since moving into the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs would say  only, “I think the president would likely tell you, as I think anybody would that has smoked or been addicted to smoking, that it is — it is a lifelong struggle.”

The president today, however, suggested that today’s young smokers are actively being recruited, which is why the new legislation is necessary.

“Kids today don’t just start smoking for no reason,” the president said. “They’re aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry.  They’re exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn, and where they play. Most insidiously, they are offered products with flavorings that mask the taste of tobacco and make it even more tempting.”

Under the new law, the federal government will ban all cigarettes from having candy, fruit, and spice flavors as their characterizing flavors, to take effect this October. In addition, the law will stop youth-based marketing such as tobacco manufacturers sponsoring sporting, athletic, and entertainment events using tobacco product brand names and logos, or giving away clothing bearing the brand name or logo of a tobacco product.


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