Image: Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva smiles as he attends the opening of the judicial year at the Brazilian Supreme Court in Brasilia
Ricardo Moraes  /  Reuters
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says he won't try to persuade U.S. President Barack Obama to follow his example and quit smoking.
updated 3/9/2010 7:57:49 PM ET 2010-03-10T00:57:49

Brazil's president said Tuesday that he kicked the smoking habit he had for 50 years after a recent health scare sent his blood pressure soaring.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in an interview with The Associated Press that he stopped with sheer willpower. No nicotine patches or gum, and no medication, the 64-year-old leader said.

Silva was just about to take off in his presidential plane in January for the World Economic Forum in Switzerland when his blood pressure rose dramatically.

He spent the night in a hospital. On Tuesday, he characterized the hospitalization as a nuisance, "but the good thing is that I quit smoking." He blamed the scare on an exhausting schedule over three days.

Silva favored cigarillos, small cigars often made without filters. But he was never seen in public smoking since he assumed the presidency in 2003.

Silva said he quit before, but thinks it will be for good this time because of his age.

"I haven't smoked for 40 days now, and I'm feeling good," he said.

Silva said he won't try to persuade U.S. President Barack Obama to follow his example.

Obama had his first physical last month as commander in chief, and it revealed he hasn't kicked his smoking habit, though he has talked about his struggles. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said March 1 that Obama does occasionally fall off the wagon and is aware of the example he sets for America's youth.

"On these sort of things, you don't give advice," Silva said. "Everyone can do what they want if they're of age. Everyone knows that it's not good for your health."

Added Silva: "I don't have any more time to experiment with my life."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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