NEWS chief reporter Steve Sowden has now reached the seven-month barrier since giving up smoking on January 9 this year.

But he confessed that there was now a new hurdle he had to deal with. “I need to go on a diet - I've put on a few pounds since I gave up smoking,” he said.

Steve, 41, added: “I'd like to thank everyone for their words of encouragement and support since I quit smoking.

“I know that the Olympics are hoping to inspire a generation; but I hope me giving up the fags might inspire a few others to try and do the same.”