Another reason to quit smoking

Do it for the kids.

If you won't quit smoking for yourself, do it for your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- the ones around you now, and the ones who may be yet to come. Smoking and secondhand smoke may be more dangerous than you think.

Smoking won't just shorten your life and deprive these children of precious time with a beloved relative.

It can also have a direct and damaging effect on their health, too.

It's the notorious secondhand smoke, and I'm sure you've already heard plenty about the risks to everyone around you, from family members in your home to strangers at the bus stop.

Now, new research confirms that this secondhand smoke is especially damaging to children.

And the more they're exposed, the higher the risks.

Children in homes where both parents smoke have thicker arteries. By the time they reach adulthood, their carotid intima-media thickness is 0.015 millimeters thicker than that of kids in homes where parents don't smoke.

This may not sound like a very big number. It's less than the width of a human hair.

But it's real damage -- equivalent to 3.3 extra years of aging -- and it's the type of damage that can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke years later.

Even worse, it's permanent damage.

The effect was only seen in kids who live in homes where both parents smoke. But don't be fooled; even if only one person smokes in your home -- even if there's a child in your life that doesn't live with you but visits -- secondhand smoke can do real and lasting harm.

There are more than 250 damaging compounds in each puff, including 50 known carcinogens.

In addition, kids who grow up with smokers are more likely to smoke later and more likely to have other bad habits. They're also more likely to be obese, according to the study in the European Heart Journal.

So if you smoke or have a loved one who smokes, don't delay. Quit.

And if you need some help kicking the habit, I recommend proven natural drug-free therapies such as acupuncture and hypnosis.