Nick Naylor is the chief spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, a tobacco industry lobbying firm that promotes the benefits of cigarettes. He utilizes high-profile media events -- including appearances on television shows that readers of this novel would immediately recognize -- and intentionally provocative rhetoric in order to highlight what his clients view as an unfair crusade against tobacco and nicotine products.
The political satire is heightened by Naylor's informal association with lobbyists from other industries that are subjected to routine vilification in the media, e.g. Polly Bailey, a lobbyist for the alcohol/spirits industry, and Bobby Jay Bliss, who represents the firearms industry. Collectively, they form what is known as the M.O.D. Squad, a reference to the title of a police drama, although in this case, "MOD" stands for "Merchants Of Death."
A pivotal point in the plot occurs when Naylor is kidnapped by a clandestine group who attempt to kill him by covering him with nicotine patches. The search for the perpetrators of the crime leads to surprising results