There are many reasons to stop smoking. Smoking is bad for your health, it is very expensive, it stinks, and it is becoming illegal just about everywhere in the United States.

One of the best reasons to give up this nasty habit, though, is for the people you love. First and foremost, this includes your spouse and children, of course. Consider these aspects of the lives of these very important people...

Health: Secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco, is a known carcinogen. Yes, your family can get cancer from your cigarette smoking! Secondhand smoke kills. Young children are especially susceptible to adverse effects of cigarette smoke in terms of respiratory tract infections and ear infections. Their young bodies are still developing and growing. Smoke is very irritating to the eyes as well, and itchy, watery eyes makes studying and going to school much more difficult. The elderly are also susceptible to the effects of secondhand smoke.

Appearance: Teachers can always tell which students have parents who smoke. How? Because the children reek of cigarette smoke themselves! There's no way around it--children who live in homes and who travel in cars with smokers end up with smoky clothes and hair. There's nothing sadder than a kindergartener who smells like cigarettes.

Safety: People who live in homes with smokers are at a much greater risk of being in a fire than those who don't live with smokers. Falling asleep with a cigarette is a common house fire starter, and everyone in the house is in danger.

Finances: Should children go without new shoes or a new coat because their smoking parents need a carton of smokes? Absolutely not, but many do. A carton of cigarettes easily costs as much as a pair of shoes. In addition, smokers will pay more in insurance rates, taking even more money out of the family's wallet.

Future: Smokers leave behind a lot when they die of lung cancer at an early age. They miss out on seeing their children grow up, seeing them marry, and knowing their grandchildren. Is that smoke really worth it?

Peace of mind: Children and spouses of smokers tend to worry more about their smoking family member.

Probably the worst effect of a smoking parent on a child is that the child is much more likely to become a smoker himself.

There are no good reasons to continue smoking cigarettes and so many reasons to give them up. The security and well-being of your family is a prime reason to quit cigarettes. If you can't quit for yourself, do it for those you love! Stop smoking and give the gift of love.

I lost my father to lung cancer when he was only 43 years old. I was 18. I wish that everyone could stop smoking for the sake of their families.