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Gateshead puts out smokers

The fog of cigarette smoke and piles of fag butts are a familiar sight at the entrances to colleges throughout the country - with one exception.

Those dying for a smoke among the 23,000 staff and students at Gateshead college now have to find other ways of coping with their addiction.

The college in Tyne and Wear is the first to impose a complete smoking ban, covering the main campus and 100 satellite centres in schools and community centres.

Smoking shelters and ashtrays fixed to exterior walls have been removed, and the crowds outside entrances have disappeared.

Two new smoking cessation officers will help hardened nicotine addicts cope. But Darren Heathcote and Sue Pinchen have found some welcome the ban.

"One member of staff was a 40-a-day smoker who had tried several times in the past to quit," Ms Pinchen said. "But this ban has helped her succeed in giving up."

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