Blarney aims to clean up its kisses

IT’S not a load of old Blarney — the famous Co Cork town is aiming to become Ireland’s first tobacco-free centre.

Pubs, restaurants and supermarkets yesterday enthusiastically embraced a no smoking day and the Blarney Stone restaurant in the town square took the lead by slapping a permanent ban on smoking.

Proprietor Elizabeth O'Connor, a non-smoker, said: "The smoking members of staff have also decided to give up I've hounded them long enough."

The Southern Health Board initiative in Blarney is to be followed up with smoking-cessation courses, to be held in local hotels.

Deputy manager of the Blarney Park Hotel, Stephen Ryan said: "We put up posters in the Paddy Cole Bar and the leisure centre promoting the health board initiative. Smoking is a matter of personal choice and stopping people from smoking is not something we can enforce at the moment.

"The real test is further down the line but hopefully the day-long promotion will have some effect."

The SHB's senior health promotion officer Linda Hogan said the promotion highlighted both the obvious health benefits and the fairly substantial financial benefits.

She noted a person smoking 20 cigarettes a day forks out more than 40 weekly. "That amounts to more than 10,000 over five years which is the equivalent of hefty payments towards a new car, a family holiday each year or a deposit for a new house."

Tobacco Free Blarney, she said, was a voluntary community activity aimed at heightening awareness in schools and businesses of problems associated with tobacco smoke.

David Scally of SuperValu in Blarney said staff observed only one customer smoking in the store's coffee dock yesterday. "There's been a very positive reaction," he said.

Barman Eamon Ahern of the Muskerry Arms said only a small percentage of lunchtime customers were smoking. "It's a great idea," he said. "I'm a non-smoker and I don't begrudge anybody who wants a smoke."

One in four smokers tries to quit their habit on Ash Wednesday, a new survey shows.

The national survey published yesterday by the Irish Cancer Society also found that two out of every five smokers who quit on Ash Wednesday last year were lighting up again 24 hours later.

The society wants people trying to quit to seek help from its trained Quitline counsellors by calling 1850 201 203 week days from 9am to 5pm.

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