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Michelle fumes as Obama fails to quit smoking

US President Barack Obama just can't quit the smoking habit -- despite firm pledges to his wife.

As early as 2006 Michelle Obama secured a promise from her husband that he would give up if he ran for president.

Four years on he has the job, but he has still not quit.

The proof consists of four words in the written summary of his first routine medical as president: "Continue smoking cessation efforts".

In a list of medications occasionally used by Mr Obama, the summary also notes "nicotine replacement therapy, self use" -- a reference to the nicotine gum that he sometimes chews.


That was enough to trigger a flurry of inquiries about the presidential smoking habit, including several to his press secretary Robert Gibbs, who repeated what his boss admitted once last year: Mr Obama "occasionally falls off the wagon".

On that occasion he called himself a "former smoker".

But he was clearly more candid with Capt Jeffrey Kuhlman of the US navy, his personal physician, whose choice of words left no doubt that he is in fact a current smoker.

No known photographs exist of him smoking as president, although plenty have been faked, including one of him dressed as the Marlboro Man.

He cannot light up inside the White House since it is designated a no-smoking building, and he dislikes being asked about his habit by reporters.

His preferred brand is thought to be Marlboro, and he is believed to minister to his nicotine cravings on the West Colonnade, which leads from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden.

Mrs Obama has never smoked or had much sympathy for her husband's apparent inability to quit.

"I hate it," she told the CBS news programme 60 Minutes in 2007.

In that interview she appeared to believe that he had stopped smoking and said proudly: "I outed him -- I'm the one who outed him on the smoking.

"That was one of my prerequisites for, you know, entering this race."

The book, The Race Of A Lifetime, an account of the 2008 campaign, stated that months before the CBS interview, Mrs Obama had not only demanded that her husband promise to quit as a condition of supporting his presidential run, but that she made the promise a "deal-breaker".

In 2008 Mr Obama openly admitted in an interview with Men's Health magazine that he was still occasionally "bumming" cigarettes to feed his habit.

"But I figure, seeing as I'm running for president, I need to cut myself a little slack." As president he continues to do so. What Mrs Obama makes of that remains to be seen.