Smokers say farewell to final contest

LORNA MARSH lamenting what was possibly their last ever Norfolk championships prior to next year's nationwide ban on lighting up.The 15th , and most likely the final, Norfolk Open Pipe Smoking Championship attracted 41 puffers from as far away as France, Belgium, Belfast and all over Britain including Cornwall, Wales and a contingent from Birmingham.

LORNA MARSH

lamenting what was possibly their last ever Norfolk championships prior to next year's nationwide ban on lighting up.

The 15th , and most likely final, Norfolk Open Pipe Smoking Championship attracted 41 devotees from as far away as France, Belgium, Belfast and all over Britain including Cornwall, Wales and a contingent from Birmingham.

The only regional open championships in the country took place at the Lansdowne Hotel in Norwich, as it has since 1991. And for the eighth time - and the second year running - top puffer Len Ellis took the trophy.

Former winner Keith Garrard, secretary of the Pipe Club of Norfolk, which runs the competition to see which smoker can keep the same weight of tobacco going the longest, said the trick was to take shallow puffs.

But his tip might go to waste as organisers struggle to get round the imminent smoking ban.

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Mr Garrard said: “We are looking at alternatives like having an open sided marquee but in all likelihood it looks like this will be the last competition.

“I think the ban is over the top, particularly for pipe smokers as we can't go outside and have a quick smoke. It will be very sad to see the competition go, people travel for hundreds of miles for it. It is a national sport.”