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Ex-smokers' ashtrays go to sculpture; CANCER CHARITIES.

SPORTY Spice Mel C yesterday helped launch an "ashtray amnesty" for smokers and urged her young fans not to start the habit.

Two leading cancer charities are calling on people trying to quit smoking this month to reinforce their commitment by handing in their unused ashtrays - except those made of glass.

The Cancer Research Campaign and Imperial Cancer Research Fund will recycle the ashtrays into a sculpture, to be unveiled on No Smoking Day, March 13.

Mel C said yesterday, "Having a healthy lifestyle doesn't guarantee you won't get cancer, but smoking dramatically increases the risk. As far as I'm concerned, it's like playing Russian roulette with your life.

"Smoking is also becoming more and more anti-social, and I'm urging as many of you as possible to stub out those cigarettes now and send in you ashtray today."

About 450 British children, some as young as nine, are thought to start smoking every day.

Tobacco control expert, Professor Gerard Hastings of Strathclyde University, praised role models such as Mel C and soccer star Michael Owen.

He said, "It's wonderful to see such idols using their influence to counter the might of the tobacco industry. It's hard for young people to appreciate the long-term damage smoking can do."

Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, said, "It's great to have the support of Mel C who is idolised by thousands of young girls. Smoking among teenage girls is rife and we need to drum home the message that it is not fun, not cool, not glamorous."

People should send their ashtrays to Ashtray Amnesty, 61 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PX until the end of January. They should include name, address, phone number, and details of how long they had been smoking and why they want to give up.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 5, 2002
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