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John Boehner and Tobacco: He's Not Ready to Give Up Smoking

4 years ago
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House Minority Leader John Boehner has two ties to the tobacco industry. He gets a lot of political support and money from it, and he smokes a lot of cigarettes. But putting the political aspect aside, Boehner made one thing clear Sunday: He's not ready to give up the habit.

In an unusual twist for one of the Sunday newsmaker shows, politics did in fact take a back seat to the personal, when Bob Schieffer, host of CBS' "Face the Nation," asked Boehner about his smoking and whether he, as a national leader, would give it up "set a good example for the country."

Boehner said it's a "bad habit" but he's not ready to give it up.

Schieffer admitted he was not an objective questioner on the subject, having developed bladder cancer seven years ago (he is now cancer free). He blamed his heavy smoking for the cancer. A native Texan, Schieffer has said he began chewing tobacco at 16 because "I hung around rodeos and played baseball."
John Boehner
Boehner is a heavy smoker (The Hill newspaper says his brand is Camel Ultra Lights), and perhaps one of the cruelest cuts he suffered at the hands of Speaker Nancy Pelsoi came in 2007 when she banned smoking in the Speaker's Lobby, an area right off the House floor.

Schieffer asked how Boehner squared taking money from the tobacco lobby given the widely acknowledged health hazards posed by cigarettes and the 435,000 deaths a year attributed to it.

"Tobacco is a legal product in America," Boehner said. "The American people have a right to decide for themselves whether they want to partake or not. There are lots of things that we deal with and come in contact with every day, from alcohol to food to cigarettes, a lot of the things that aren't good for our health. But the American people ought to have the right to make those decisions on their own."

Schieffer countered: "They have a right to shoot themselves if they choose to, but I mean, shouldn't we do something to try to encourage them not to? I mean, do you think that's a good example?"

"Well listen, I wish I didn't have this bad habit -- and it is a bad habit -- you've had it, you've dealt with it, but it's something that I choose to do, and you know at some point, maybe I'll decide I've had enough of it," Boehner responded.

Schieffer proposed: "If you should become speaker, you could set a good example for the country by saying 'I'm going to stop smoking.' Maybe you could get the president, I understand he smokes too, maybe the two of you could find a way to try to stop smoking. That'd be kind of a good thing, wouldn't it? "

Boehner said he appreciated the suggestion, and when he and Schieffer turned back to politics, Boehner said that, for the Republicans, "winning the House is still an uphill fight."

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98 Comments

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rentthis

Let everyone in congress smoke. That would be a step toward term limits.

September 13 2010 at 10:55 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
n2b4u

On top of the smoking, Boehner should be concerned about his tan. He's setting himself up for a double whammy. I'm sure he knows about the dangers of tanning (whether in the sun or in a tanning salon). He can do as he pleases but he is endangering his health, which is the most important thing going. If he does get sick (and I'm not wishing him any ill), he certainly will be taking advantage of the health care system that he tried so hard to break.

September 12 2010 at 9:38 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jpark377

Boehner, try looking like a leader. With Obama "sneaking smokes", and people like the "smoking nurse" Carolyn McCarthy in Congress, what kind of example do you set for the younger people in this country?

September 12 2010 at 8:37 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jpark377's comment
ellingt5

Leadership is taking a stand, following your principles, and accepting responsibility for the consequences of you decisions. This is seriously lacking in the White House. Boehner just did all three!

September 12 2010 at 10:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Berniece

I don"tremember hearing anything being said about President Obama bein a smoker before he was elected President so why does the media have to bring it up against Senator Boehner? Berniece

September 12 2010 at 8:12 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
ANN PONZI

I will never understand why cigerettes have never been pulled off the market. If some sort of toxin is found in food, the food is banned. If a certain drug is found to cause more problems than benefits, away it goes. Cigerettes cause a deadly cancer, emphasema, heart problems, but they are still available. Doesn't make sense to me. By the way, I'm a smoker.

September 12 2010 at 8:06 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to ANN PONZI's comment
conservgirl8

Tobacco is legal. However, it has provided government a nifty little way of generating revenue. The cost of ciggarettes is outrageous. I remember when you could buy them for 35 cents a pack, now you pay over $6.00. The tax on ciggarettes was suppose to cure the ills of the children, the elderly and whatever else the government deemed, what more do they want? Good heavens, don't buy into this demonization of Boehner, especially in light of the fact they he and the President may sit around smoking together. To look at one and not the other is ludicrous and very small minded.

September 12 2010 at 7:58 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
druid0621

What a waste of time! With all of the problems facing our country, someone's smoking is at best irrelevant. Schieffer is about due to retire.

September 12 2010 at 7:39 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
piknplundr

Nothing is worse than a reformed smoker. They have all the answers for everyone else instead of taking care of their own lives.

September 12 2010 at 6:38 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
FRED

If he smokes or takes money from the tobacco industry, so what? Both are still legal and the taxes paid by us and the industry to the federal government with every pack sold are in the billions. If the government really cared about us out here, they would make all tobacco products illegal, just from the health concern. Does anyone think the fed are going to give up billions just to make us healthy? Not likely, money and power are the most important thing to the democrats, and some republicans. They will do anything even allow things out there that kill millions of us. So what if he takes money from "big tobacco", they all do. All this mud slinging, I watch who is throwing and think twice before voting for them.

September 12 2010 at 5:41 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
zeroagenow

smoking is nasty and cost everyone, dont think it doesnt, it is very hard to quit too, boeher and obama should both quit

September 12 2010 at 5:28 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

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