Would House Speaker Boehner Quit Smoking? Don't Count on It

Boehner suggested that quitting smoking will not be on his agenda.

Sept. 12, 2010— -- House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, suggested on Sunday that if Republicans take control of the House -- and he becomes House speaker -- giving up his smoking habit will not be part of his agenda.

Boehner -- a famously heavy smoker who favors Camel Ultra Lights -- acknowledged that smoking is a "bad habit" but that he's not ready to call it quits.

The issue came up during an interview on the CBS program "Face the Nation," when Boehner was asked how he could take hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from tobacco interests given the health hazards posed by cigarettes.

"Tobacco is a legal product in America. The American people have a right to decide for themselves whether they want to partake or not," said Boehner.

"There are lots of things that we deal with and come in contact with every day, from alcohol to food to cigarettes, a lot of the things that aren't good for our health. But the American people ought to have the right to make those decisions on their own."

Host Bob Schieffer responded, "They have a right to shoot themselves if they choose to, but I mean, shouldn't we do something to try to encourage them not to? I mean, do you think that's a good example? "

"Well listen, I wish I didn't have this bad habit - and it is a bad habit - you've had it, you've dealt with it, but it's something that I choose to do, and you know at some point, maybe I'll decide I've had enough of it," Boehner replied.

Boehner was non-committal when Schieffer suggested that he and Obama quit together if Boehner became speaker of the House: "Maybe you could get the President - I understand he smokes, too - maybe the two of you could find a way to try to stop smoking. That'd be kind of a good thing, wouldn't it?"

"Bob, I appreciate your suggestion," Boehner replied.

President Barack Obama considers himself a "former smoker" who is struggling to completely kick the habit.

"I constantly struggle with it," Obama said in June. "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 -- (laughter) -- there are times where I mess up."