Obama urges Americans to quit smoking

The White House on Thursday released a video of President Obama congratulating Americans who are participating in the Great American Smokeout, saying it underscores “our administration’s commitment to fighting tobacco use.”

“The fact is, quitting smoking is hard,” Obama says in the video. “Believe me, I know.”

Obama has in the past acknowledged his struggles to kick the habit, although in October, a medical report released by the White House declared the president “tobacco-free.”

The president also used the opportunity to tout a portion of his Affordable Care Act, which will be challenged in the Supreme Court next year.

Under his healthcare reform law, companies are required to cover preventive services, including tobacco-cessation counseling, “without charging you an extra penny out of your pocket,” according to the White House blog.

Obama also slammed the big tobacco companies, which he says are standing in the way of his administration’s attempts to keep cigarettes “out of the hands of our kids” by battling measures such as enhanced warning labels on cigarette packs.

“Today, some big tobacco companies are trying to block these labels because they don’t want to be honest about the consequences of using their products,” Obama said. “Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. We’ve always known that the fight to stop smoking in this country won’t be easy.”

The Great American Smokeout is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, and encourages smokers to mark the day by quitting smoking.