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Obama as ex-smoker-in-chief: Was he really afraid of Michelle?

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David Karp/AP

(Read caption) President Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, arrives at JFK International Airport in New York on Monday. Later in the day, he was overheard telling a United Nations official, 'I haven't had a cigarette in six years ... that's because I'm scared of my wife.'

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For regular smokers quitting isn’t easy, and the motivation to do so – health reasons or social mores – isn’t always strong enough.

But when a person can’t just head outside to light up and enjoy, when photos of him mid-cigarette could become a public health endorsement to all the globe’s children, well, then perhaps that habit gets rethought. Maybe.

But it really helps a person kick that dependence, if he is fearful of his spouse’s reaction to it. At least, that’s what it took for President Obama to beat his smoking routine.

"I haven't had a cigarette in six years ... that's because I'm scared of my wife," Mr. Obama was overheard Monday telling a United Nations official.

That six years number might be a little fuzzy, points out USA Today. During a 2009 news conference, Obama indicated that he hadn’t quite given up his smokes.

“I’ve said before that as a former smoker I constantly struggle with it,” he said. “Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes. Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No.”

Anyone who has ever loved a smoker knows that pushing that person to quit comes from a deep place of concern. So first lady Michelle Obama’s influence should be viewed as admirable, no? She cares. She wants him healthy, and she probably prefers her daughters not breathe in their father’s secondhand smoke.

Not to mention the fact that, ever image conscious, the first lady probably knows that the leader of the free world should not partake (at least publicly) of an unhealthy habit – perhaps, most especially, as he advocates for health-care reform.

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