Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Associated Press (“Obama has kicked smoking habit, first lady says”) reported earlier this week that President Obama had “given up smoking.” The source for the report wasn’t the White House Press office but First Lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama confirmed that the President had successfully quit smoking and had been smokefree “almost a year.”

This is wonderful news for the Obama family and for millions of Americans who struggle to quit smoking and wonder if they will ever be successful.

The President’s success sends an unmistakable message of hope to those struggling to quit. Now children whose parents smoke can refer to the President’s example and his struggle. Quitting is possible…even if you are President of the United States.

In a recent meeting of Partnership’s ActionToQuit state grantees, the news from Mrs. Obama was greeted with much excitement and admiration. In a letter of congratulations to the President these state tobacco cessation leaders wrote: “Your experience in quitting smoking gives hope to millions who struggle with their (tobacco) addiction. Your example – that quitting … is possible with the right combination of therapy and family support will encourage others to make the effort and realize the success, even in one of the world’s most stressful jobs.”

The ActionToQuit members joined Partnership VP Diane Canova in urging the President to take pride in his accomplishment and “consider sharing your experience to help other smokers seek out the smoke-free pathway to a longer, healthier life.”

The President’s experience with quitting tobacco is all too human. Quitting takes time. His example demonstrates perseverance and should encourage all of us to redoubling our efforts to expand access to tobacco cessation and encourage the types of social and family supports that increase smoking cessation success. The Affordable Care Act expands access to tobacco cessation through health insurance plans including Medicare and Medicaid. The new Prevention and Public Health Fund will make financial assistance available to help communities promote health and wellness including preventing and reducing tobacco use. These are important tools that can accelerate progress towards a healthier, smokefree nation.

But let’s not underestimate the important motivational role that examples of successful quitters can play. We hope the President’s struggle and his success will motivate others to successfully quit.


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