The main character, Dick Morrison, is a middle-aged man who would like to quit smoking. His friend Jim McCann advises him to go to Quitters, Inc., the firm that he says helped him kick the habit. The firm is said to have a 98% success rate with their clients and guarantees that once the person has enrolled for treatment, he will never smoke again.
Dick finds out about the brutal enforcement methods used by Quitters, Inc. from Vic Donatti, Dick's quitting counselor. These include administering non-fatal electric shocks of increasing intensity to his family members if he is caught smoking a cigarette, and eventually, with enough infractions, administering shocks to him as well. Donatti also reveals that after the ninth infraction, Alvin, Dick's mentally handicapped son's arms would be broken. Finally, if Dick commits a tenth infraction, Donatti says, placing a gun on his desk, Dick would become part of "the unregenerate two percent." "But even the unregenerate two percent never smoke again. We guarantee it."
With some difficulty, Dick is able to quit, after only one slip, which results in his wife Lucinda Morrison being abducted and shocked. But Cindy understands: she too wants Dick to quit smoking, so she forgives him. Dick, however, now must deal with other aspects of the firm's strict methods. His counselor gives him a prescription for some diet pills, and said that if he does not lose the weight he has gained as consequence of quitting smoking, then his wife's finger will be cut off. Dick loses the weight, but later learns that Jim McCann had not been so lucky, as seen from the fact that his wife is missing a finger.