Obama’s smoking ‘lights up’ Mumbai meet

March 10th, 2009 - 6:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, March 10 (IANS) US President Barack Obama has come under attack at the 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health here for smoking in public — and urged to kick the habit.
Obama was singled out at the meet among successful men with a smoking habit.

Anti-smoking activists, doctors and experts described Obama’s smoking as an “irresponsible” act taking into account his influential public persona.

“I was not aware that Obama smokes. It was shocking for me to know this,” a public health activist from Jordan, Kawkab Shishani, told IANS.

Shishani, a delegate, said smoking by a world leader like Obama sends a wrong message. “What would the young learn from him? Obama should give up smoking sooner than later.”

“It is better if Obama did not smoke in public. After all he is a role model for others,” said Monique Lalonde, a health promotion agent from the Montreal Public Health Department in Canada.

Another anti-smoking activist, Omar El Shahwy from Egypt, said Obama should stop smoking immediately. “He should join the tobacco control campaign as he must be aware of the harmful effects of smoking.”

Obama has been described as a moderate smoker who puffs up to 10 cigarettes a day. During the presidential campaign, he was under pressure to set an example by giving up his reportedly two-decade-old habit.

The 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health - a meeting of anti-tobacco advocates, health experts, scientists and educators - began in Mumbai Sunday. It is the first time the event is being held in India.

More than 2,000 delegates from the world are attending the five-day conference at the National Centre for Performing Arts. It will end March 12.

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