Michael Powers' letter was one of 10 from ordinary citizens picked daily for the president's reading, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.
Powers, 54, who went to high school in Illinois, wrote Obama of his own father's death from lung cancer and enclosed a photo of his father.
Obama replied, "Thanks so much of the wonderful letter and the good advice. I am returning the picture, since it must be important to you, but I will remember your dad's memory."
In his letter to Obama, Powers urged the president to stop smoking so he could be there when his daughters, Sasha and Malia, start dating, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"I think President Obama is the same way with his girls as my dad was with me. Friends," Powers said, adding, "Their dad's gotta give some boys those dirty looks."