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A Yorkshire boozer which last week established a "smoking research centre" has attracted the attention of Barnsley Council, evidently unimpressed with its vital scientific work.

Kerry Fenton, landlady of the Cutting Edge in Worsbrough, converted the pub's tap room into a hub of nicotine-based research in which punters could smoke themselves silly if they filled in a questionnaire.

The cunning plan was the brainchild of regular James Martin, a Sheffield printer who noticed a potential loophole in the Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulation 2007 - that a "designated room in a research or testing facility" does not have to be smoke-free "whilst it is being used for any research or tests", as the Yorkshire Post puts it.

Fenton claimed her trade had rocketed since Friday, when the new facility opened to the public. Customers were required to answer questions, such as how many cigarettes they smoked, and if they liked smoky pub atmospheres, as well as stick 50p in a charity box to fund cancer research.

She said: "Before Friday we were lucky to get 10 people in at a weekend. On Friday we had 29, on Saturday 31 and on Sunday 46."

Sadly, Barnsley Council was due to serve an enforcement notice on the Cutting Edge yesterday since the pub is "quite clearly not a research or test facility and as such is not exempt under the legislation quoted as an attempted 'get out' clause".

Punch Taverns, which owns the hostelry, was similarly hostile to the initiative. A spokesman said: "Punch does not endorse this activity and will not be rolling it out across any of our other sites."

The Cutting Edge's customers, though, wholeheartedly backed the scheme. Regular Christopher Pick enthused: "I think it's brilliant. Before this I was standing outside no matter what the weather was like."

Non-smoker Rob Hudson, who's been patronising the pub for 35 years, said: "I would rather come into a full pub than an empty room. I have the choice of the tap room and the lounge and I come in here." ®

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