Former House Speaker John Boehner joins tobacco company board

Reynolds American Inc., the tobacco company behind brands like Newport, Camel, and American Spirit, has added a high-profile new name to its board of directors: former House Speaker John Boehner.

“Boehner will serve on the board’s corporate governance, nominating and sustainability committee,” the company announced in a press release Thursday.

A longtime smoker, Boehner made no effort to disguise what he would admit was a “bad habit” when he was in office, even smoking in his office on Capitol Hill. After Boehner resigned last year, his replacement, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, joked that the speaker’s suite needed a good cleaning and deodorizing.

In a 2010 appearance on “Face the Nation,” then-host Bob Schieffer pressed Boehner on his smoking​ and his relationship with the tobacco industry. Schieffer noted that the industry had been “the largest contributor to your political campaigns over the years,” and he asked Boehner how he could justify that given the public health risks posed by smoking.

“Bob, tobacco is a legal product in America,” Boehner replied. “The American people have a right to decide for themselves whether they want to partake or not. There are lots of things that we deal with and come in contact with every day - from alcohol to food to cigarettes - a lot of the things that aren’t good for our health. But the American people ought to have the right to make those decisions on their own.”

“Well, I mean, they have a right to shoot themselves if they choose to,” Schieffer said. “Shouldn’t we do something to try to encourage them not to? I mean, do you think that’s a good example?”

“Well, listen, I wish I didn’t have this bad habit, and it is a bad habit,” Boehner said. “You’ve had it, you’ve dealt with it. But it’s something that I choose to do, and you know at some point, maybe I’ll decide I’ve had enough of it.”

When Schieffer suggested Boehner and President Obama, a former cigarette smoker himself, could “set a good example” by quitting the habit together, Boehner demurred.

“Bob, I appreciate your suggestion,” he said with a grin.