Presidential Puffs

Apparently President Obama likes to sneak a cigarette now and then. I don’t know if he is still doing so now that he has been elected — who could blame him, the ways things have been going? — but if he is taking a few puffs once in a while, does he get to smoke in the Oval Office? Or, does he have to go to some smoking area out in the Rose Garden or the lawn where they have the Easter egg hunt? If the District of Columbia has a smoking ordinance like Columbus does, then smoking indoors is barred in any office building, and you would think the West Wing would qualify.

At our firm, we make all smokers take their smoke breaks in a grim concrete parking garage across the alley at the rear of our buildings. It’s pathetic to see our few remaining smokers out there during the winter, like outcasts, shivering in the cold as they satisfy their habits. Of course, if the President were one of the huddled masses in the smoking area it would go from the realm of outcasts to the spot where the cool people hang out. The Secret Service guys would be out there too, of course, and if you were an ambitious White House staffer eager to get the President’s ear on some obscure policy issue, you might just decide to take up smoking. It would be a good way to try to get a few minutes alone with the President, and I’m sure that smoking together in the cold or rain creates real camaraderie.

The President seems like a pretty suave guy, so he probably is a suave smoker, too. Before I quit smoking some 16 years ago, I was a pretty inept smoker. I couldn’t blow smoke rings, for example. In fact, I never knew how to hold my cigarette in a way that didn’t either cause the smoke to go directly into my face, or someone else’s face. I always ended up in some contorted pose that looked ridiculous. President Obama, on the other hand, is probably the coolest smoker since Humphrey Bogart or James Dean. Let’s hope the media refrains from printing photos of him sucking on a cigarette — it could easily destroy the hard-won gains realized through years of anti-smoking crusades and advertising bans.

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