By all accounts, tobacco is a drug that forms a powerful addiction in its users. Many of those people — smokers, dippers and the like — desire to quit tobacco, yet find its pull too powerful to resist despite the heaping piles of evidence pointing to the havoc tobacco wreaks on the human body.

Enter the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, an event held each year on the third Thursday of November as a way to call awareness to the dangers of smoking. The hope is that all smokers will stop for the day, or at least cut back. Such an event sends a message about the power of tobacco, but also gives anti-smoking crusaders a weapon.

If someone can go all day Thursday without a cigarette, perhaps they can do the same on Friday. And then again on Saturday, and on and on to a healthier life.

Of course, some smokers have no desire to quit. So long as smoking remains legal, they should be entitled to smoke wherever smoking is allowed. We don’t wish to trample on the feet of those who do partake, but even those who have no desire to quit must own up to how powerful a hold tobacco can have on one life.

That’s why we’re pleased to see so many local restaurants working in conjunction with the Breathe Easy Tobacco Coalition of Clinton and Jackson Counties by declaring themselves smoke-free on Thursday. Participating restaurants — which will signal their involvement with a yellow window placard — are acknowledging the importance of the day and its message. By shunning smoke — at least for one day — they are telling people trying to quit that their goal is worthy, that there is greater support than the individual will.

Of course, a handful of local restaurants forbid smoking at all times. They have earned gratitude in this space for that decision and deserve it as well on Thursday. We believe in the right of a private business to operate as it sees fit — within the bounds of the law — for its customers. If that means no smoking tomorrow or no smoking every tomorrow, we trust the decision makers have made the best choice for their business.

Over recent years, smokers have become reviled in many circles. The governor wants to raise the cigarette tax to fund the state’s health system, colleges, universities and hospitals are taking steps toward smoke-free campuses, entire cities are banning smoking in restaurants and taking the decision away from the business owner.

We come not to join that parade — after all, it remains a legal activity. But we also realize tobacco is a terribly addictive, harmful substance and applaud efforts to encourage people to stop using. Whether or not to smoke is an intensely personal decision. But for one day each year, many people gather together to offer support and strength to those who choose to abstain. Good for them, and good for the people with the strength to quit.