Is Obama Still Chewing Nicorette Gum Over Four Years Later?

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Back in the halcyon days of 2007, way before we knew anything about the debt ceiling, Barack Obama was a congressman with big dreams ... of quitting smoking. "You quit for awhile and then you start back up," he said at the time. "Actually, Nicorette works pretty well." Apparently not too well, because two years later he was still praising the stuff. And just last winter, Obama was told by his doctor that he needed to "continue smoking cessation efforts."

Fast-forward another year and it's the same old addiction story, despite Michelle's support: There's Obama, in a time of crisis, falling back on the nicotine gum.

In the above photo, taken on Sunday by Pete Souza and posted on the official White House Flickr page, the president is chatting about the debt limit on the phone with Nancy Pelosi as Joe Biden and team watch nervously. There on the desk, to the left of the iPad, is what appears to be a lone piece of the habit-busting gum, as pointed out by Politico's Josh Gerstein.

But what's the problem? During his presidential campaign the New York Times reported, "Long-term use of nicotine gum is discouraged in part because it can be expensive and the gum can potentially stick to and damage dental work," which doesn't sound unlike regular gum. And according to one doctor: "[I]f I had a choice between them being on Nicorette gum or going back to smoking, there's absolutely no question the gum is better." Plus, it's tough to blame the guy, what with the Tea Party nonsense and all.

But at this point, Obama's image might actually benefit if he just went straight for the Marlboro Reds.