Son Goes Public To Get Mellencamp To Stop Smoking Speck Mellencamp made a deal with his father, John, that if 1 million people join a Facebook group he created, the elder Mellencamp will kick the habit. The musician has tried to quit before, his son says. The difference this time may be the huge audience.
NPR logo

Son Goes Public To Get Mellencamp To Stop Smoking

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/121363087/121374113" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Son Goes Public To Get Mellencamp To Stop Smoking

Son Goes Public To Get Mellencamp To Stop Smoking

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/121363087/121374113" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Quitting smoking is tough. People try gums, patches, acupuncture, psychotherapy. Fourteen-year-old Speck Mellencamp has turned to Facebook, not for himself - he doesn't smoke - but for his father, John Mellencamp, who's a longtime puffer.

Mr. Mellencamp Sr. has said that if his son can get a million people to join his Facebook group, he'll quit.

Speck Mellencamp joins us now from the studios of member station WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana.

Mr. Mellencamp, thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. SPECK MELLENCAMP: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: How many people have signed up so far?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: About 200,000.

SIMON: Well, it's getting there, isn't it?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: Mm-hmm.

SIMON: What did your father say when you told him that you're going to do this?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: He didn't really think that it could ever get to that high of a number.

SIMON: As far as you know, has he ever tried to quit smoking?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: He's tried, but he hasn't really been able to do it for more than a couple weeks.

SIMON: Do you think he'd like to quit smoking?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: I think he would like to, but I just don't think he ever had the willpower to.

SIMON: If it happens, what can having a million people telling him to do that you and your family telling him can't accomplish?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: The peer pressure of just having it. And he says if a million people do that, then if somebody sees him doing it, then he'll seem like the bad guy, so he kind of has to.

SIMON: Are people leaving comments on the Facebook page?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: Yeah. My favorite comments that I get are from other people saying that if it gets to a million, that they would quit too.

SIMON: Oh, so this could set off something.

Mr. MELLENCAMP: Yeah. I've gotten lots of them. And I've also had lots of people tell me about stories of loved ones and friends that have died from lung cancer and smoking-related stuff.

SIMON: So is this something, may I ask, does your father check in on this every day?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: Yeah. He asks me how many people I'm up to about every day.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: What do you read in his face, his emotions? Is he beginning to think: Oh, no, this might work?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: I think he's really surprised because he told me he thought it was just going to be a couple of my friends who joined the group.

SIMON: So do you have a deadline, Mr. Mellencamp?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: No.

SIMON: So just whenever you reach a million, that's when it kicks in for your father?

Mr. MELLENCAMP: Yeah.

SIMON: So he's still smoking right now, though.

Mr. MELLENCAMP: Yeah, but he's cut back a lot because it hit a hundred thousand.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: And are you ever tempted to look at him and say, well, you enjoy it now because...

Mr. MELLENCAMP: Yeah, I actually have said that a couple of times.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Mr. Mellencamp, nice talking to you. Good luck.

Mr. MELLENCAMP: Thank you.

SIMON: Speck Mellencamp, his Facebook group is called One Million to Join: My Dad, John Mellencamp, Will Quit Smoking.

(Soundbite of song, "Paper in Fire")

Mr. JOHN MELLENCAMP (Singer): (Singing) Paper and fire stinking up the ashtray. Paper and fire smoking up the alleyways. Who's to say the way a man should spend his days? Do you let him smolder like paper in fire?

SIMON: This NPR News.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.