White House denies Obama still smoking after pic shows him holding pack of cigarettes

So, a picture posted to Instagram by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's spokesman shows President Obama with a pack of cigarettes in his hand reaching for a smoke while standing outisde his hotel room at the recent G-7 Summit. 

Or does it?

Press Secretary Josh Earnest got into it with reporters who wanted to know if it wasn't a pack of smokes, what was it that the president was holding?

“There’s a lot of question about what this white thing is in his hand. Can you tell us — is the president, does he have a pack of cigarettes in his hand?” asked April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.

“He does not,” Earnest responded, seeking to quickly shift the briefing to other matters.

“I told you it’s not cigarettes. Let’s move on,” he said, following a brief back and forth.

Obama’s struggle to kick his smoking habit has been well documented. In 2011, first lady Michelle Obama said that her husband had quit puffing for good.

Obama was caught on a hot mic in 2013 telling a United Nations official that he hadn’t had a cigarette in “probably six years” because “I’m scared of my wife.”

More of the exchange at the White House briefing on Wednesday:

Ryan: “What was it?”

Earnest: “I don’t know, April, I wasn’t there, but …”

Ryan: “I understand, but I mean, did he tell you what it was?”

Earnest: “No … you may not be surprised to hear that I did not raise this issue with the president today.”

Ryan: “Well, the president, as you’ve acknowledged, he reads media reports, and it’s everywhere, this picture with him holding …”

Earnest: “I’m not sure that’s the way I’d describe it.”

Ryan: “It’s everywhere. Check it out. The size — I mean, I’m not a smoker, but the sizing looks like, I mean, so you’re saying …”

Here's the pic. Hard to imagine it being anything else but a pack of cigs.

As a smoker, I can say with more than a reasonable degree of certainty that our president, who swears he hasn't had a smoke in 6 years, is reaching into a pack of cigarettes to pull one out.

Big deal? Of course not. What makes this newsworthy is the lying by the president's press secretary, and the rank dishonesty of President Obama who is supposed to be a role model. Lying about an addiction is almost as bad as the addiction itself, and while some might sympathize with the president's struggles to quit smoking, no one should excuse his seeking to hide it from his family, and lie about it to the country.