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U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the troops at RAAF Darwin, Australia, on November 17, 2011. (Scott Barbour/Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the troops at RAAF Darwin, Australia, on November 17, 2011. (Scott Barbour/Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Trying to quit smoking? Obama feels your pain Add to ...

Find it hard to quit smoking? Barack Obama understands.

The U.S. President released a video Thursday to highlight the dangers of smoking – and to commiserate with those who are trying to kick the habit.

“Fact is, quitting smoking is hard. Believe me, I know,” the President says in the message, posted to the White House website Thursday.

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Mr. Obama, a long-time smoker, was officially declared tobacco-free during a recent physical.

In the video, released to coincide with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, the President also takes aim at the tobacco industry’s efforts to block the U.S. from introducing tougher warning labels on cigarette packages.

“They don't want to be honest about the consequences of using their products,” he says. “Unfortunately, this isn't surprising.”

Politics aside, the video is interesting because it offers a glimpse, albeit a small one, at a personal side of one of the most powerful leaders in the world. The U.S. President has been relatively tight-lipped about his smoking habit, although he has been asked about it many times by the news media.

His smoking habit continues to be the subject of speculation and discussion in the press and online.

Earlier this month, the Daily Mail, referring to Mr. Obama as the “smoker-in-chief,” published a story criticizing him for continuing to use nicotine gum after being declared tobacco-free.

While scrutiny of Mr. Obama may be extreme, most smokers can relate to being criticized by friends and family. Perhaps seeing the President speak openly about the difficulty he had will push other smokers to do the same?

Can a high-profile politician or celebrity influence your behaviour?

Follow on Twitter: @carlyweeks

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