First Lady Michelle Obama said President Obama finally kicked his smoking habit and has not had a puff for about a year.
She revealed that during a lunch interview with ten print reporters who cover the East Wing. The meeting was organized to mark the first anniversary Wednesday of her "Let's Move" anti-childhood obesity campaign. After interviews Wednesday morning on NBC's "Today Show" and "Live with Regis and Kelly," Mrs. Obama travels to Atlanta to deliver a "Let's Move" anniversary speech.
Mrs. Obama's session with her press corps touched on a variety of topics. Asked if Obama stopped smoking, she said, "Yes he has, yes he has. Very proud," she added. "Totally."
In 2007, Mrs. Obama made her husband promise to quit smoking as a condition to getting her support for his presidential bid.
"It's been almost a year," Mrs. Obama said of Obama's last smoke. "But I don't know exactly when because he never smoked a lot to begin with, so I never saw him smoke." For those who want to know more about his smoking habit, "You have to talk to him."
Asked for more details on how the president finally quit, something he has been struggling with for years, Mrs. Obama said, "He's always wanted to stop. I think our kids are getting to the age where he wants to be able to look them in the face, because they want to know, 'You don't smoke, do you dad?' He wants to be able to say nope. It's always really for the kids. I haven't really poked and prodded him on this because when somebody is doing the right thing, you don't mess with him."
The group interview took place over lunch featuring greens from the White House garden--vegetables growing on the South Lawn in the winter protected by hoop houses. Lunch entrees were a choice between seared rack of lamb, which Mrs. Obama ordered or fresh pan-roasted rockfish.
Joining Mrs. Obama were key White House staffers involved in "Let's Move:" White House chef Sam Kass, Senior Policy Adviser For Healthy Food Initiatives; First Lady chief of staff Tina Tchen; White House domestic policy director Melody Barnes and "Let's Move" director Robin Schepper.
With all of Mrs. Obama's emphasis on healthy eating and exercise--key cornerstones of "Let's Move," the White House Super Bowl "sports bar" menu raised some eyebrows because guests were served bratwurst, kielbasa, cheeseburgers and deep dish pizza--as well as salad.
Mrs. Obama is not a food purist--she has never called for people to cut out all junk food--just be careful not to make it the main part of a diet. She underscored her point while defending the Super Bowl menu.
"I mean, it is about balance. It's always about balance," Mrs. Obama said. "And I felt, as a mother, if somebody came and said, "You can never have a hot dog or serve your child a slice of pizza," we'd never get a handle on this issue, because I think that's sometimes how people feel -- that it's all or nothing -- "You can never go through a drive-through." And that's just not the case, and it's not realistic.
"I mean, so much of our lives are highlighted by foods that are traditions. The Super Bowl -- I mean, you're not going to have -- what, I don't even know what you have other than some hot dogs and some burgers for a Super Bowl party. That's what the Super Bowl is.
"So the message has always been about balance. And this is what I do in my household. As I tell my kids, if you eat your vegetables at every meal, then when you're out with your friends on a weekend and you have pizza and ice cream for the entire weekend, you'll still be okay.
"The problem is when that fun stuff becomes the habit. And I think that's what's happened in our culture. Fast food has become the everyday meal. And what pediatricians will tell you, that's causing some huge health issues. We flipped the script. As opposed to pizza being the treat, it is the thing that kids eat every day because sometimes that's all they'll eat."
Former Arkansas Gov. Sarah Palin-a potential GOP 2012 presidential candidate-criticized Mrs. Obama for asserting-incorrectly-that Mrs. Obama's anti-obesity campaign called for people to not eat dessert. Mrs. Obama was asked if she thought Palin was out of line.
"I don't think about her in this initiative because it's not really about... this initiative is about balance and giving parents the kind of advice and tips that they've been asking for."
Mrs. Obama was asked if she were concerned about shots taken at her by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. In her reply, she talked about Republicans who have supported her health crusade.
"We also have gotten great support from members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. This has been a bipartisan effort. (Former Arkansas Gov.) Mike Huckabee took the lead on this issue when he was the governor of Arkansas," Mrs. Obama said, mentioning another potential 2012 GOP contender-who hosted her on his FOX News show to discuss "Let's Move" last year. "I mean, he had one of the most forward-thinking programs out of any state on obesity because he lived it. Bill Frist is a physician," she said, a reference to the former Tennessee senator.
"The vast majority of people I think understand that this is a real issue. I mean, these statistics aren't made up. And people -- you can look within your own communities and see the changes that are going on. So I don't think that there's anyone who really questions whether this is a real issue."
Asked if she had a message for Palin or Limbaugh, Mrs. Obama shot back: "Let's move!"