Quitters, Inc.

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"Quitters, Inc."
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror short story
Published in Night Shift
Publisher Doubleday
Media type Print (Paperback)
Publication date 1978

"Quitters, Inc." is a short story by Stephen King, first published in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.


Richard "Dick" Morrison, is a middle-aged man who smokes.[1] He meets with his college roommate, Jim McCann, who had been a heavy smoker and advises him to go to Quitters, Inc., the firm that helped him quit. The firm has a 98% success rate and guarantees that the person will never smoke again.

When Dick's work is going horribly, he decides to go to Quitters, Inc. Dick is introduced to Victor Donatti, who will be his quitting counselor. Donatti tells the history of Quitters, Inc., saying it was founded by a New Jersey mob boss who had been a heavy smoker and realized, before he died of lung cancer, that he must aid others in quitting. The following day, Donatti states to Morrison that they have found out all the relevant information about his family, which shocks Morrison.

For the first year, Dick will have round-the-clock surveillance to ensure he is not smoking and for the second year, the surveillance would be 18 hours a day. After that, the surveillance would be random checks for the remainder of his life. The brutal enforcement methods used by Quitters, Inc. are non-fatal electric shocks of increasing intensity to his wife, a second infraction to him and the third would include the both of them. A fourth infraction would involve beatings to his son, and subsequent infractions would result in more trips to the shock room with higher voltage, and more painful beatings of his son and wife. After the ninth infraction, his son's arms would be broken. Finally, if Dick commits a tenth infraction, he would be shot to death. 40% of Quitters' clients never violate the agreement at all, and only 10% are subject to a fourth or greater infraction. Donatti says Morrison's greatest problem will probably be temptation as a result of availability.

Dick is able to quit, after only one slip, which results in his wife being shocked. Dick has gained weight and Donatti obtains some prohibited diet pills for him with a target weight. If Dick strays from this goal, then his wife's right pinkie will be cut off. Morrison exercises and keeps in shape, and gives the business card to a barfly, echoing the start of the story. The story ends where Dick and Cindy meet the McCanns, and Dick sees the wife is missing her pinkie.


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