U.S. President-elect Barack Obama failed to give a straight answer when asked Sunday whether he had managed to quit smoking.
In a country where cigarettes are responsible for one in five deaths and smoking costs tens of billions of dollars in health care, Obama has been under pressure to set an example by giving up his reported two-decade-old habit.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, interviewer Tom Brokaw told Obama he had ducked answering the question during an interview last month with ABC’s Barbara Walters.
Noting that the White House was a no-smoking zone, Brokaw asked Obama, “Have you stopped smoking?”
“I have,” Obama replied, smiling broadly. “What I said was that there are times where I have fallen off the wagon.”
“Wait a minute,” Brokaw interjected, “that means you haven’t stopped.”
“Fair enough,” Obama said. “What I would say is that I have done a terrific job under the circumstances of making myself much healthier. You will not see any violations of these rules in the White House.”
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