Starting tonight at 8 pm, the Irish Cancer Society is running a six week stop smoking course, offering advice and support to people who want to give up smoking. The course costs £15 and takes place at 5 Northumberland Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 01 6681855.

. Meanwhile, apparently 14 per cent of Irish women smokers will not try to quit this New Year because they are afraid of gaining weight. This is the finding of a new survey by Nicorette, which is running a 24 hour stop smoking help line. Tel: 1550 111500.

. "Cancer of the head and neck, once thought to be predominantly a disease of older men, is showing an increase in women and younger people - a development directly attributable to lifestyle changes, because proportionately more and more women are smoking."

This was stated recently by Michael Walsh, Professor of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery at Beaumont Hospital's Oncology Unit. Seventy per cent of women who smoke are aged 18 to 44, he said, adding that smoking patterns for men are not increasing.

There is a four times greater rate of tumour recurrence, or of developing a new cancer, if cancer patients do not give up smoking.

. The fastest sneeze ever recorded clocked up a speed of 103mph and the longest recorded sneezing fit apparently lasted 997 days. A new pocket booklet from Warner Wellcome is full of information on coughs, colds and flu and how to treat them.

To obtain a free copy, send an SAE to Coughs, Colds & Flu, PO Box 100. Pottery Road. Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

. Boots Healthcare is also getting in on the act with a booklet entitled Combating Colds and Fighting Flu.

Helpful hints include the advisability of getting a flu vaccine; and if you do succomb, the importance of drinking plenty of fluids. Write to Freepost Nurofen, 27 Sydney Parade Ave, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Some 21 per cent of second level students between the ages of 15 and 18 surveyed in 40 schools in the west of Ireland have had sexual intercourse.

Of these, 68 per cent said they used condoms, 24 per cent used them sometimes, and 8 per cent never used them.

AIDS Education in Schools: a Guide for Teachers at Second Level is a new leaflet, produced by AIDS Help West and the Western Health Board, which outlines the kind of education teenagers need about the connection between AIDS and unprotected sexual intercourse.

The leaflet is available from Jacky Jones, senior health education officer, County Clinic, Shantalla, Galway. Tel: 091 523 122.

. Nominations are being sought for the new BOC Gases Critical Care Nurse of the Year Award. The top prize is £1,000 towards ongoing education, together with a specially commissioned trophy, will be presented to the overall winner in April.

Nomination forms are being circulated through major hospitals and health centres throughout Ireland. The deadline for nominations is February 9th.

Check Out Your Choices is a new video about underage drinking which will be used by garda juvenile liaison officers and neighbourhood gardai in their schools education programme throughout the country.

The video has been funded by the Cider Industry Council.