In November of 1968, Marlene Groshong was a dedicated three-pack-a-day smoker. She was so concerned about the freshness of her cigarettes that she kept cartons of them in the refrigerator and, at night, wrapped her open pack in cellophane so it would be fresh for morning.

Then one day -- she doesn't remmeber the exact date -- Groshong stopped. She has not smoked another cigarette and is determined she never will. Duey Groshong, a four-to-five-pack-a-day smoker, quit when his wife did, but started again six months later.

Today, neither of the Groshongs smokes, but they admit that quitting wasn't easy.

"I finally said to myself, 'What am I doing, letting this little white cigarette control my life?'" Marlene Groshong says. "So I just quit."

Duey Groshong, who owns Thundervolt, an ignition cable manufacturing company in nearby Long Beach, was unable to stop smoking permanently until August of 1976, when he had a heart attack and "had to stop or face what would happen to me."

Groshong admits that he still wanted a cigarette when he was in the hospital recovering, but he didnht dare pick one up. "When Marlene quit," he says, "she carried a pack around in her purse, as a sort of security, for a year. She kept a carton at home in our apartment. I can't have one near me. To this day, if I had one in my pocket I'd reach for it and smoke it.

cIt I could just smoke a half a pack a day, I wouldn't quit at all," Groshong says. "But I can't. And I know it. Every time I ever tried to cut down, I smoked more."

The most important factor in giving up smoking, say the Groshongs, is to decide you're not going to smoke anymor. To really believe it.

"It's a bitch," Duey Groshong contends. "I never did decide that I didn't want to smoke. I had to decide I couldn't."

I didn't smoke all that long, only about 11 years," Marlene Groshong says. "But I would think about quitting and I never really thought I could." She explains that she began smoking cigarettes as a teen-ager "because my mother would not allow my friends, many of whom smoked to show them I wasn't as square as my mother."

Dduey Groshong was the first to stop smoking. He had the flu in November, 1968, and was too sick to smoke. "I tried," he recealls. "What smoker hasn't smoked when he had a cold? And the cigarette tasted terrible. Like a burning rubber tire. But you smlked it.

cAnyhow, I was really sick, so I quit. Marlene decided if I could do it, so could she." The Groshongs were then residents of Chicago; they moved to Southern California 3 1/2 years ago.

They tell classic smoking stories:

They once went to Jamaica for a week, each taking two cartons of cigaretts apiece. But they had such a good time, they stayed two weeks and ran out of cigarettes. Marlene Groshong hired a taxi and spent a day driving all over Montego Bay looking for her brand of cigarettes.

The Groshongs shopped only at Chicago stores that did a high volume of cigarette sales, so they could find the freshest ones. She learned the code numbers on the cartons so they could pass up agin cartons.

If he ran out of cigarettes, Duey Groshong would search for cigarette butts in the ashtrays. If he found one he termed "a jewel" (one that had not been smoked down to the end) he would use the plant mister to moisten the cigarette so it tasted better.

Once, when Duey decided to quit, he took his cigarettes and ran water over them. The next morning, he put them in the toaster to dry them out.

Both Marlene and Duey admit they smoked every minute they were awake. Duey even took a cigarette in the shower ("You have to be careful to put it on a ledge or something, so it doesn't get wet"). He smoked while he shaved.

"Everybody has his own way of quitting, says Marlene. "Some people can't do it by themselves. They have to go to an organized program. I just quit one day. But I can tell you it isn't easy. The first three days are terrible. I think that's one reason I never started again. I considered those three days torture. I wouldn't go through that again."

Mrs. Groshong worked out a reward system for hereself during her struggle to stop smoking. "You have to psych yourself," she says. "I walked around talking to myself, saying, 'I'm so happy to be a nonsmoker.'" People in her office (she worked then as office manager for Playboy, but now sells real estate in Long Beach) probably thought she was crazy, she admits.

"But you have to convince yourself. I would say, 'If I can get through this day without smoking, I'll reward myself with a cocktail at 5.' Then I figured out how much money I was saving and decided to spend it at the designer shop of Saks and Bonwits. In one week I used up five years' worth of cigarette money."

Staying away from cigarettes is easier for Marlene Groshong than her husband. "Oh, the thought crosses my mind now and then to have one," she says. "But I donht really want to. I truly do not want to be a smoker anymore."

Both Groshongs say they have put on a few pounds since giving up smoking, but that they have had few other side effects. Marlene experienced withdrawal from nicotine, Dueyt did not.