Laura occasionally sneaks a cigarette with friends. In 1994 and 1995, she totally quit a lifelong smoking habit. When asked by the media, she would honestly say that it was "difficult" to quit. But after 1995, Laura went back to bumming cigarettes from friends, though never in front of George or her staff. At the White House, she might step outside on the Truman Balcony to take a few puffs. At the ranch, she might occasionally light up on the porch.
"She is a stress smoker," said her friend Anne Stewart. "She still bums a cigarette."
"If she is sitting around with some friends and they are smoking, she may smoke," longtime Bush friend Dr. Charles Younger, an orthopedic surgeon, said. "She wouldn't tell you she never does it, but it's not an image she would like to promote as a healthy habit from the First Lady who is supposed to be perfect."
Once, as family members geared up for the day's athletic contests during one of her first visits to the Bush vacation retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, one of the matriarchs inquired of Laura, "And what do you do?"
"I read, I smoke, and I admire," Laura responded, according to Barbara Bush's recollection.