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Smoking quitter gets to 6 months

May 18, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Editors note: This is the fifth in an occasional series. From time to time, The Herald-Mail will check in on Angie Rowe as she wages her battle against nicotine.

On April 1, Angie Rowe walked into the convenience store where she used to buy her Virginia Slims menthols and said, "I'll take six packs."

The clerk, who knew Rowe had quit smoking, rolled her eyes but reached for the cigarettes anyway.

"April fools," Rowe said.

Rowe, 32, had her last cigarette last Nov. 18. She's gone six months without lighting up.

Not a single cigarette, she says, not counting the second-hand smoke she craves now and then. She still thinks about smoking, but it's not the nagging urge it was when she first quit.

"I think I'll stick with it," she says.

In the last three months, the Falling Waters, W.Va., woman has withstood some temptations.

In early March, she and her husband, George, went on vacation to Las Vegas, where women carrying trays of cigars and cigarettes tempted her at every turn.

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"I was staring them down," she said.

Later that month, Rowe went to Texas for a meeting of Pocahantas, the ladies' auxiliary to the Williamsport Red Men club in Williamsport. Her roommate smoked, but she didn't complain.

In late April, she attended a statewide Red Men's convention in Hagerstown. She was concerned because during an earlier attempt at quitting, she relapsed at a Red Men's convention.

When she wants a cigarette, she thinks about how long she's made it without one.

Rowe's highly publicized struggle still draws some ribbing from her co-workers at Washington County Hospital's behavioral health services office on Northern Avenue, where she's a secretary.

"Now everybody knows that you're a quitter," they tell her.

Some people have asked her to convince friends or relatives to quit smoking, but she says she can't offer much help.

"I'd love to see a couple of people I care about quit. They've got to want it themselves, I've learned from experience," she said.

She chose to quit to get out of an unproductive pattern. Every night, she would sit in front of the television with her cigarettes and a glass of tea.

This spring, she has cleaned her house, noticing the stains on curtains and walls from her old habit.

She and her husband are now in the process of remodeling their kitchen.

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