Saturday, February 3, 2007

Smoke signals

An article in the Globe and Mail wonders what impact Barack Obama's smoking habit will have on his presidential hopes.

There are other prominent tobacco-smoking elected officials, like California governor Arnold Schwartzenegger who I've personally seen light up a cigar in a smoking tent he maintains outside of his official office.

However FDR was the last president known to smoke cigarettes while in office. Many presidents including Bill Clinton were known to light up cigars on occassion. Gerald Ford was a regular pipe smoker. Eisenhower and Johnson were both heavy smokers but quit before assuming office.

A sign of cultural bias perhaps is that drinking is more accepted than smoking. No one would raise an eyebrow if a president were to accept a drink at a social event, for example. It is arguable that alcohol poses a much greater risk to good decision-making than tobacco.

Obama and wife Michelle with their daughters Sasha (L) and Malia (R) in Chicago in 2004. AFP photo via Yahoo News. Many believe that Michelle will be an important factor in Obama's race.

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