Smoking is a nasty habit. I did smoke for 10 years and quit. I didn’t do it any other way than to stop altogether. To this day, when I smell one, I want one- except for Dorals because they’re gross. Don’t let anyone tell you different; it is an addiction. Richard Morrison, the protagonist, is a advertising man who shared my addiction. Richard is in nadir of his life. His son is severely mentally disabled and lives at an inpatient school, his wife nags him constantly, his overweight, and Rick smokes.
He smokes until he meets Jimmy McCann who tells him about Quitters Inc. It’s strictly word of mouth and free. Richard attends Quitters Inc. Once you commit, you can’t leave. It’s free because the founder, a mobster, bequeathed his fortune to get people to stop smoking the way the mob does they threaten you, your family, harm you, harm your family, or all or some of the above.
Richard learns that he will be under surveillance and if he smokes they will beat his wife. If he smokes again, they will beat his son and do escalating harm to his family and himself. They even go beyond smoking and threaten to cut off his wife’s finger if he doesn’t lose weight. Quitters Inc. runs life choices.
This is one of Stephen King’s early works and it’s written very tight. There’s no extra words or passages. It reads like it went through many edits to purposefully ratchet up the tension. You feel for Richard because he’s trying to succeed, but like all of us, he comes close to failure. Every time Richard fails, you feel it in the pit of your stomach because you know the retribution is coming for his family.
The odd part of the story is that his life improves when Quitter’s Inc takes over. You wonder if maybe free will is not for everyone. In Richard’s case, free will destroyed his health and free will got him to accept unknown entity into his life that harms his family. Freedom isn’t free, but giving up free will isn’t free either.