We had planned to encourage Del Norte smokers to participate in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, but other local events demanded our attention. But, no matter. Any day is a good day to quit smoking, after all.

Certainly kicking the habit is no easy achievement. Nicotine withdrawal can be accompanied by the shakes, increased irritability and cravings almost impossible to ignore.

But there are good reasons for every smoker to go through the pain of quitting - and good reasons for their loved ones to offer encouragement along the way. Cigarette smokers have more than twice the risk of heart attack and two to four times the chance of cardiac arrest, the American Red Cross reports. Smoking can lead to bronchitis and emphysema. Indeed, every year 390,000 American die from the effects of smoking.

But quitting isn't just about helping oneself. Research now shows that second-hand smoke from parent's cigarette raises the chances of his or her child suffering from asthma and can cause in spouses the same health problems that smokers themselves suffer. Further, a pregnant woman who smokes increases her baby's chances of infant crib death.

If you want more money in your pocket, the best advice for a smoker is to stop smoking. It's an expensive habit. Never mind the price of cigarettes. Treating cigarette-related illnesses means more medical bills or missed days of work and school. Cigarette smokers typically pay more for life, homeowners and renters insurance.

There's no easy path to quitting, of course. Sure, there are stories of those who went cold turkey, but the reason they get press coverage is because of the rarity of their success. Most smokers actually quit several times before finally succeeding. Nicotine is a powerful addictive. The counterbalance must be not just personal willpower but the support of friends and loved ones.

Indeed, many who gave up cigarettes say it's among the most difficult things they ever did. But it's also something they always can be proud of.