Thank You For Smoking Summary

Christopher Buckley

Thank You For Smoking

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Thank You For Smoking Summary

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Thank You for Smoking is a novel written by Christopher Buckley, and was first published in the year 1994. It was adapted into a film, which was released in the year 2005. There were some significant changes between the novel and the movie adaptation. The characters are mostly the same, but the plot differs in many ways. Most notably is that Naylor’s relationship with his son is given more importance in the film, and the kidnapping conspiracy is downplayed considerably. The ending is also different in both events and tone. The novel is a satirical, farcical novel that criticizes the American government and the lobby system that thrives on it.

Nick Naylor is the main character of Thank You for Smoking. Naylor is the chief spokesperson for a powerful tobacco lobby, and the story follows Naylor as he defends the rights of smokers and tries to present the tobacco industry in a positive light. Throughout Thank You for Smoking, he rises to media stardom, becomes involved in a kidnapping attempt, and is deeply embroiled in a vast Washington conspiracy. He is a cunning, manipulative man, a master of misdirection, and is easily able to foil government experts in lively debates, creating convincing streams of illogical points. He is a public relations genius, and decides to commit his lobbying group to an expensive antismoking advertising campaign that he purposely designs to be ineffective and unconvincing. He convinces filmmakers to portray the characters lighting up. Naylor sleeps with everyone to get his way, including his assistant at work, a slanderous reporter, and a subordinate who is gunning for his job. Unfortunately, these choices don’t end up working out for Naylor. They, in fact, have disastrous results.

Thank You for Smoking begins with Nick receiving an ultimatum from BR, his new boss, at the Academy for Tobacco Studies. BR tells Nick that he must develop a new means of promoting tobacco or lose his job. Nick discusses his options with Bobby Jay and Polly. They are the respective spokespeople for firearms and alcohol, and along with cigarettes, the three form a cohort they call the MOD Squad, or Merchants of Death. Nick comes up with a new idea. He will reintroduce cigarettes into popular movies in a positive light. When BR hears this idea, however, he is not at all impressed. He says he intends to give Nick’s job to an aspirational colleague of his, Jeannette.

At the very last minute before Nick loses his job, he is saved. Nick makes a successful appearance on Oprah that grabs the attention of someone very important, the Captain. The Captain is the elderly president of Agglomerated Tobacco. After the talk show success, the Captain hires Nick back at double salary, and suddenly Nick finds himself in an opportune position.

Nick begins an affair with a young woman named Heather Holloway, who is a newspaper reporter. He then manages to get a spot on Larry King, which promises to be as successful as Oprah. However, while on the air, Nick receives an anonymous phone call, threatening his life. Mere days later, he is abducted just outside the Academy. His kidnappers trap him and cover his body with nicotine patches, which very nearly kills him. But lucky Nick survives, and is able to escape. He discovers, upon returning to freedom, that the media loves him even more than they did before. His boss does, too, which also helps. Nick begins to do interview after interview, drawing sympathy from smokers everywhere. His idea to put cigarettes back into movies goes into full effect. Around this time, Nick begins an affair with Jeannette. He is visited by FBI agents, who believe he kidnapped himself.

Nick goes to LA to pitch the cigarette placement idea to Jeff Megall, a movie mogul. Jeff loves the idea and the revenue it could bring in. Nick is then called back to Washington to deal with a bill that would force cigarette packs to be stamped with a skull-and-crossbones. He gives more interviews on Nightline and at the Senate hearings, and their political rival, Senator Finisterre, is as good as destroyed.

Eventually Nick is arrested after the FBI discover his fingerprints all over some boxes of nicotine patches, hidden away in a Virginia cabin rented in his name. He realizes that BR and Jeannette, who are also sleeping together, and trying to kick him out of the Academy. They tried to kill him and failed, and now they’re having him arrested. Nick breaks bail, goes to Winston-Salem and asks the Captain for help. He agrees, but dies the next day, and Nick is fired.

Gomez O’Neal, CIA information man for the Academy, comes to help Nick. He reveals information about BP’s past murders of cigarette petitioners plus Nick’s attempted murder. Nick is disillusioned by the tobacco company and pleads guilty. But before he does, and with help from the MOD Squad, he kidnaps BP’s hit man and convinces him that BP is behind everything. The hit man murders BP and frames Jeannette. Nick marries Polly and writes a book about his experiences, called Thank You for Smoking.