U.S. President Barack Obama participates in the APEC Chief Executive Officer Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 12, 2011. (Photo:Reuters)
President Barack Obama, a former smoker, urged Americans to stub out their cigarettes on the "Great American Smokeout Day," adding he knows just how hard it is to quit.
"Today, 46 million Americans are still hooked. And tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable early deaths in this country," Obama said in a statement.
"The fact is, quitting smoking is hard. Believe me. I know. But we can make it easier," he said.
Obama, a longtime smoker, quit in early 2010 a year after entering the White House, his former spokesman Robert Gibbs and First Lady Michelle Obama have said.
In December 2010, Gibbs said the president had not had a smoke in nine months. He acknowledged it had been a battle for Obama given the stress he was under, but he had succeeded because he's stubborn.
In February, the first lady said her husband had not smoked for about a year, and said she has not raised the subject with him since.