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Former smoker can still stick to her guns

February 18, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Editors note: This is the fourth in an occasional series. From time to time, The Herald-Mail will check in on Angie Rowe, who quit smoking Nov. 18, 1998.

Angie Rowe's highly publicized battle against nicotine has mobilized many soldiers. Even store clerks.

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If she wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes, she'd probably have a hard time finding someone to sell them to her.

Rowe had agreed to have the story of her battle to quit smoking detailed by The Herald-Mail. She smoked her last cigarette the night before the Nov. 18 "Great American Smokeout."

In the three months since, she has been reminded nearly every day that she is being watched.

"Everybody's keeping their eye on me. Even people I don't know," she said.

Before Rowe, 32, quit smoking, the clerk at the convenience store where she stops for coffee every morning knew her brand, Virginia Slims menthol.

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Now, she doubts if the clerk would sell them to her.

One day Rowe stopped at the store with her mother, who asked Rowe to buy a pack for her.

Rowe refused.

"She called me a chicken. I knew what kind of harassment I'd take," she said.

When she goes out, strangers who have seen her picture in the newspaper ask how she's doing.

"A day doesn't go by that I don't want one. But I stick to my guns," she said.

One day, alone in her mother's house, she saw a pack of cigarettes sitting on the counter. She came close to sneaking a cigarette.

But she talked herself out of it, recalling the advice of other former smokers, who said one cigarette will lead to more.

Being a nonsmoker has its benefits, she said.

For one thing, she feels better physically.

"It doesn't kill me to go up a set of steps without huffing and puffing," she said.

She has saved money, not only because she isn't buying cigarettes, but because she doesn't have to go the dry cleaners as often.

The $20 a week she budgets for lunches, coffee and previously cigarettes, goes a lot further now.

"I don't have to be as selective. I can go for a Whopper instead of a Happy Meal," she said.

Rowe said her sense of smell is much keener now. That isn't always a good thing.

Last week, her husband, George Rowe, came home reeking of cigarette smoke. He has never smoked, but was playing shuffleboard next to someone who was chain smoking, she said.

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