Cricket: Warne can keep his cigarette money

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The Independent Online
A PHARMACEUTICAL company which paid Shane Warne pounds 84,000 to quit smoking has agreed to let him keep the cash even though the cricketer was pictured with a lighted cigarette in his hand during Australia's recent tour of the West Indies.

A spokesman for the company which manufactures Nicorette's anti-smoking gum and patches said the Australian leg spinner had been told he could keep the money even though he lit up five days before the end of his four- month contract. "It is possible that ex-smokers relapse, particularly in stressful situations. This is clearly what happened to Shane," the company said in a statement. "He has shown considerable willpower in reducing his 40-a-day habit for the last four-month period."

Warne admitted that he had smoked a single cigarette in a Barbados bar on the final day of Australia's trip to the Caribbean. But he insisted it was the only cigarette he had smoked since kicking the habit on New Year's Day and he remained determined to give up.

Warne's admission that he had given in to his craving received a sympathetic hearing in his native Australia with health groups praising the efforts he had already made towards quitting. The Australian Medical Association president, David Brand, said Warne's relapse was human and served to illustrate just how difficult it was to kick the nicotine habit. "The AMA will fax a herogram to Shane congratulating him on his achievement to date, urging him to stick with quitting," Brand said. "It's tough to beat an addiction, but it can be done. Shane may be a super-human spinner, but he's a very normal quitter."

Warne claimed the cigarette on 25 April was "a mere blip" in an otherwise smoke-free four months. "It had been quite a stressful 10-week period and unfortunately I had a night out with the lads, it was quite late at night and I gave into the temptation once," said Warne.

Warne is hopeful of playing county cricket next season. He has made no secret of his desire to play on the county circuit but has never been allowed because of his contract with the Australian Cricket Board.

However, with Australia deciding not to undertake a major overseas tour in 2000 because of the Sydney Olympics, Warne said he was confident of getting a clearance.

"It's different this time, I'm optimistic they'll let me come," Warne said. "I've already spoken to a couple of counties and I'm pretty certain that I'll be spending next summer here."