Tag Archives: 11/22/63

Stephen King, “11/22/63” and smoking

Scene from “11/22/63”

Hello, my first update in a while. Just been busy with real life.

First of all, I just started reading a book called “11/22/63” by Stephen King. It’s about a guy that is able to go back in time from 2011 to 1958 and it’s also a television series on Hulu.

What I found interesting about this book so far  (I’m about 200 pages into it and it’s an 850-page behemoth) is that the main character, Jake Epping, talks a lot about smoking  — how all the people in 1958 seem to smoke and how much the 1950s stinks as a result (that and the lack of air pollution standards). I thought it was a really interesting touch in the book. I still remember how you could smell cigarette smoke everywhere, and I do mean just about everywhere, when I was a kid. At home, in virtually every restaurant much less bar, in most workplaces, in the car, in hotels and motels. It was literally an omnipresent odour — one that I obviously don’t miss. And I think a lot of people today really take it for granted how it was absolutely everywhere. I can’t even imagine how jarring it would be to go back to 1958 and literally smell it constantly.

I looked for images from the series and couldn’t find a single image of people smoking; I did see one brief scene of smoking in this trailer. Also of note, one of the main characters in “11/22/63” is someone dying of lung cancer.

Out of curiosity, I Googled “Stephen King + smoking” just to see if he had publicly stated an opinion about smoking. He’s an opinionated guy who speaks out a lot about politics.

Stephen King

I didn’t realize this, but apparently King battled severe drinking and drug problems in the 1980s. He has talked about this publicly. He also used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, but he says he has cut down to three a day. Cigarettes are the one vice that he still allows himself. Here is an interview from the Paris Review:

Do you still smoke cigarettes?


Three a day, and never when I write. But when there’s only three, they taste pretty good. My doctor says, You know, if you’re going to have three you might as well have thirty, but I don’t. I kicked booze, Valium, cocaine. Those were all the things that I was hooked on. The only thing that I could not kick was cigarettes. Usually I have one in the morning, one at night, one in the afternoon. I do enjoy my cigarettes. And I shouldn’t. I know, I know. Smoking, bad! Health, good! But I sure do like to kick back with a good book and a cigarette. I was thinking this the other night. I came back from the ball game; the Red Sox won. And I was lying on the bed reading The Quiet American by Graham Greene. It’s a terrific, terrific book. I’m smoking a cigarette, and I’m thinking, Who’s got it better than me?

Cigarettes, all those addictive substances are part of the bad side of what we do. I think it’s part of that obsessive deal that makes you a writer in the first place, that makes you want to write it all down. Booze, cigarettes, dope.