Under Obama Will Smoking Become 'Cool' Again?

Smokers could soon have a reason to rejoice: President-elect Obama is a smoker who has tried hard to quit the habit but just can't seem to do it. His addiction could go a long way toward making smoking a fashionable pastime once again. Hey, reliable liberal and Time magazine columnist Michael Kinsley is just fine with The One's habit. Not only does Obama's need for nicotine show "he's not a superman," but quitting could affect one of his greatest assets: his "steely nerve."

For decades, smoking has been under attack. While always somewhat of a dirty habit due to the smell and mess (not to mention the health risks that became known back in the 1960s), smoking used to be considered a rite of passage. Even women got in on the act in their quest for equality and while they may continue to carp about "equal pay," they are certainly closing the gap with men in smoking-related diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

You've come a long way, baby.

Those who continue to smoke despite the well-known health risks have gained near pariah status in many places in the United States. In 24 states, smoking is banned in the workplace, including restaurants and bars. Other states have partial bans, a few have no ban at all. In some states, like California, smoking is even banned within 20 feet of any window, door or air intake of government buildings or buildings leased by government agencies. Individual counties and towns have also taken it upon themselves to ban smoking in parks, on beaches, and in apartment and condo buildings.

It's hard to be a smoker in the 21st century. Full disclosure: I am a former smoker. I'm generally okay with bans in public buildings, but balk a bit at the bans in public outdoor spaces and apartments. Pretty soon, it seems as though while cigarettes themselves will be legal, smoking them will not. Why not go all the way and get it over with?

For years I've been calling Obama's particular brand of confidence chutzpah. My bad. Besides, I thought Obama was the Messiah, not a superman. I guess even modern saviors must be allowed to have their vices. Jesus enjoyed wine; Obama enjoys tobacco. Same diff, right?

You know, Bill Clinton enjoyed cigars. Unfortunately for smokers, that didn't do much for their cause. But Obama's cult status could be a boon to not only smokers but to tobacco companies in general.

In Britain, they have a Royal Warrant system wherein the warrants "are a mark of recognition to individuals or companies who have supplied goods or services for at least five years to HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales." Those products are marked with a royal seal which, one would assume, is a positive marketing tool.

Maybe the new agent of Hope and Change could come up with a similar system. Products that he and the First Family use exclusively could receive The One's seal - possibly the stylized "O" used during the campaign. Imagine the cigarette brand lucky enough to receive an "O" on its packaging, right next to the Surgeon General's warning that "Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide." Since it's common knowledge these days that Obama can do no wrong, Obama supporters may well rush to the local smoke shop to stock up on Camels, Marlboros, Kool, Benson & Hedges, or whatever brand Obama prefers.

For those who can't wait to find out, since the press was so efficient at ferreting out all of Sarah Palin's dirty laundry and airing it during the campaign, finding out which brand Obama smokes should be a cinch.

And all those parents who were proud to have their children sing odes to Obama that were posted on YouTube will just have to suck it up when they discover that their children have taken up the habit of smoking. "Obama does it!" will be their snarky retort. And who can argue with that?

In the meantime, perhaps the government should consider lifting the ban on smoking in federal buildings. After all, the White House is a federal building. You wouldn't want for our leader to have to suffer the indignity of sneaking out the back door just to grab a quick smoke, would you?

Pam Meister is the editor of FamilySecurityMatters.org and a contributor to Pajamas Media. The opinions expressed here are her own.