By Julian Pecquet - 11/17/11 02:57 PM EST
President Obama released a Web video Thursday applauding the thousands of Americans who are pledging to quit smoking as part of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.
"The fact is, quitting smoking is hard," Obama, a longtime smoker, said. "Believe me, I know."
The message comes as the administration is battling Big Tobacco in court over new regulations requiring graphic warning labels on cigarette packs. A federal judge blocked the requirement earlier this month until the courts decide if the law violates the First Amendment.
The administration has made anti-smoking efforts a key plank of its healthcare platform, from the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act's restrictions on marketing aimed at children to the healthcare reform law's requirement that health plans cover preventive smoking cessation programs without copays. Still, 46 millions Americans continue to smoke, making the habit remains the leading cause of preventable early deaths.
"We've always known that the fight to stop smoking in this country won't be easy," Obama said. "But it's people like all of you who make me confident that together we can hep Americans everywhere live longer, happier and healthier lives."