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A STAGGERING 67 per cent of all street litter is smoker-generated, whether in the form of butts, packets or wrapping, according to Limerick County Council. And environmental education officer, Pauline McDonagh added that "it can take up to five years for a cigarette butt to disintegrate". She also stressed that there is visible evidence that the smoking ban has increased litter in Limerick. To counteract this, the County Council is urging smokers to start using the portable ashtrays which are available free of charge from any Council office or library. The ashtrays are small plastic boxes with a snap-shut lid and they are designed to clip onto a belt, inside pocket or bag-pocket. Ms McDonagh explained that they work in the same way as a car ashtray. Each one can take up to 10 cigarettes and once they are closed all air is excluded and a butt extinguishes itself. Over 4,000 of these were distributed in advance of the smoking ban last year. But now, the Council wants to remind people to carry these portable ashtrays, or to pick one up if they don't have one. Anyone dropping litter faces an on-the-spot fine of 125 euro, so this is another reason to call into your local area Council office or library to pick one up, she added. Last year, the Irish Business Against Litter association (IBAL) estimated that the smoking ban had increased the level of cigarette butts in public areas by some 20 per cent and called for the local authorities to step up enforcement. And Ms McDonough said that the smoking ban certainly has "pushed smokers outdoors, but the butts don't just go away". EXETER - Since Rhode Is-land became a smoke-free state on March 1; local businesses are feeling the affects to varying de-grees. Owners of Homestead Restaurant on South County Trail and Middle of Nowhere Diner on Route 3 are hoping to accommodate customers with outside smoking areas. Whereas, JPL's Exeter Pub, on Route 3, is losing the bulk of its business and is in fear of closing, according to long-time bartender Linda Rostenkowski.

Matthew Thule, an owner of Homestead Restaurant, is seeking a liquor license expansion so that he can fence off an area out-side the building where customers can enjoy a smoke and a drink. A public hearing will take place at the regular town council meeting in June." I noticed the customers were going outside," said Thule. "I thought it would be nice to just take their drinks out with them as a convenience to them as smokers."

Thule said the state recommends the area be 50 feet from the building and requires a barrier. In this case, it would be a wall." I spoke to the liquor control board and they sent me to the state department of health," he said at a recent town council meeting. "They said they had no issue with It." hole said that since the no smoking law was enforced in March, he has had the same amount of business. But, that's not the case for Neil White, owner of Middle of No-where Diner, who said he wouldn't want to guess at how many customers he's lost." It's a large amount of people who used to sit, eat and smoke," he said. "Now they might get a coffee and run. The ambiance has changed. The locals don't stay. It definitely affects revenue." In the next couple of weeks, White said he would work at fixing the problem with the creation of a "glorified picnic grove" for the people who do smoke. It will be a fenced in area outside the building, which accommodates about 30 people, weather pending, he said." If they [cigarettes] were so dangerous they would make them illegal," said White. "The government doesn't want to give up the tax dollar. "Last summer, Gov. Donald Carrier signed the



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