In a phone conversation Wednesday morning, Philippine President-elect Benigno Aquino III asked President Obama for some advice on how to quit smoking.
After a roughly 15 minute conversation,Aquino said, according to Reuters, “at some point, I attempted some humor,” saying “’Mr. President, I understand we have the same issue with smoking.’”
A White House official confirms the conversation and says according to a transcript President Obama responded, “I kicked the habit, so you are going to have to work on that one yourself. I can give you advice, though.”
The President praised the May 10 elections in the Philippines “as a model of transparency and positive testament to the strength and vitality of democracy in the Philippines,” a White House statement said.
President Obama has long battled with the insidious weed tobacco. After the president’s health examination in March 2010, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that the president continued to chew nicotine gum.
Prompted by his wife he tried to quit in February 2007, he admitted in April 2008 that he’d fallen off the wagon a few times. In June 2009 he said “as a former smoker, I constantly struggle with it. Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. 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 I would say that I am 95 percent cured, but there are times… where I mess up.”
That same month at the signing of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the president made the issue of cigarette advertising aimed at kids a personal one.
“I was one of these teenagers, and so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it's been with you for a long time,” the president said. “And I also know that kids today don't just start smoking for no reason. 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.”
- Jake Tapper