In an unguarded moment on Monday, President Barack Obama joked that he was able to successfully quit smoking “because I’m scared of my wife.”
Following a Civil Society Roundtable at the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, an open mic caught the president questioning U.N. Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai about his smoking habit.
“I hope you quit smoking,” Obama said as the two greeted each other after the event.
Kiai said he still enjoyed a smoke from time-to-time, and asked Obama if he had been able to kick the habit.
“I haven’t had a cigarette in 6 years…that’s because I’m scared of my wife,” Obama told him with a grin.
Obama’s nicotine habit has gotten plenty of attention since taking the White House. While pushing for passage of health care reform in 2009, he admitted that he still struggled with cigarettes and has continued to smoke on occasion as president.
“I’ve said before that as a former smoker I constantly struggle with it. Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No,” he said at a press conference in 2009.
“I don’t do it in front of my kids. I don’t do it in front of my family. And, you know, I would say that I am 95 percent cured. But there are times where…There are times where I mess up.”
In 2012 in an interview with iVillage, First Lady Michelle Obama said her husband had been motivated by their daughters to successfully quit for good.
“I know that his ability to ultimately kick the habit was because of the girls, because they’re at the age now where you can’t hide,” Michelle Obama said. “I think that he didn’t want to look his girls in the eye and tell them that they shouldn’t do something that he was still doing.”