US President Barack Obama has finally kicked his craving for the odd cigarette -- and his wife Michelle is "very proud" the former puffer-in-chief can look his kids in the eye and say he doesn't smoke.
Obama's struggle to beat his addiction has been a subject of inordinate fascination for the US press, throughout his barnstorming 2008 campaign and in the first two years of his presidency.
President Barack Obama speaks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011. (AP-Yonhap News)
But First Lady Michelle Obama told reporters Tuesday that the president had not had a drag for about a year and said she was "very proud" he had succeeded in what had been a "personal challenge for him," USA Today reported.
Michelle Obama said she had not repeatedly bugged Obama about quitting -- all while doing one of the world's most stressful jobs.
"When somebody's doing the right thing, you don't mess with them," she said according to USA Today, adding that Obama had finally stopped lighting up because he wanted to tell his daughters Malia and Sasha he did not smoke.
The first lady was talking to reporters to mark the anniversary of her "Let's Move" campaign to end childhood obesity.
Obama had been urged by his doctor in February last year to stop smoking for good after his first health check-up as president, when he was otherwise found to be in "excellent health" and "fit for duty."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that several of Obama's closest aides had joined the president in his effort to wean himself off tobacco, and added he was sure the first lady's influence had helped.
"I think that when somebody decides to quit smoking... they do it not just because they want to, but because others want them to," Gibbs said.
오바마 금연 성공..미셸 "자랑스럽다"
"버락 오바마 미국 대통령이 담배를 피우는 모습을 거의 1년간 보지 못했다".
미국 퍼스트 레이디인 미셸 오바마 여사가 8일 남편의 금연성공을 선언했다.
미셸은 이날 백악관에서 기자들과 만난 자리에서 남편이 금연에 성공했느냐는 질문에 "그렇다. 금연은 남편에게 개인적인 도전이었다"면서 "남편이 매우 자랑스럽다"고 말했다.
그는 두 딸이 남편과 얼굴을 맞댈 수 있는 나이로 성장했고, 딸들이 `아빠 담배를 안 피우지요. 담배 피우나요?'라고 물을 때 남편이 `아니'라고 말할 수 있기를 원했던 것이 오바마의 금연 동기라고 전했다.
그는 또 남편이 정확히 언제부터 담배를 피지 않았는지는 모른다면서 "왜냐하면 그렇게 많이 담배를 피지는 않았기 때문"이라고 말했다.
오바마의 장기간 금연은 지난해 12월 로버트 기브스 백악관 대변인이 오바마가 9개월째 금연을 지속하고 있다고 공개하면서 알려졌다.
오바마는 금연껌을 사용해 담배를 끊기 위한 노력을 해왔으나 종종 실패했다고 실토하는가 하면 2009년 6월 백악관 기자회견 때는 "담배를 끊으려고 항상 애를 써 왔고 95%까지 성공했지만 절제를 못 할 때도 있다"고 말하는 등 자신의 금연 실패담을 그동안 종종 털어놓았다.