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Pub sets up smoking room - for research of course!

A SOUTH Yorkshire's pub's crafty way to get around the smoking ban looks like being stubbed out after less than a week.

The tap room has been turned into a 'Smoking Research Centre' and customers can't get a drink until they have filled in a questionnaire .

It asks how many cigarettes they smoke and whether they like a smoky atmosphere in pubs.

Landlady Kerry Fenton, of the Cutting Edge at Worsbrough, near Barnsley, claims trade has doubled since she set up the 'centre' last Friday.

"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," she said.

Kerry, aged 36, who asks smokers to put 50p in a charity box – part goes to a cancer research fund – says it's getting busier as word gets around.

She's relying on an interpretation of the Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulation 2007, where part two, item nine sets out conditions for research into smoking.

It was spotted by customer James Martin, a 40-year-old Sheffield printer, who has provided her with signs and the questionnaires.

"I wanted to have a pub to smoke in before they all closed down," he said.

But that interpretation is not shared by the pub's owners Punch Taverns. It said in a statement: "Punch does not endorse this activity and will not be rolling it out across any of our other sites. Our licensee will be advised against undertaking this activity."

Last night Kerry, who doesn't smoke, said she would carry on.

"They are trying to sell this pub from under me so I have nothing to lose," she said.

Signs on the door of the taproom, which has its own bar and is completely separate from the rest of the pub, indicated the place is a 'Designated Smoking Room'.

Customers are all in favour. Regular Christopher Pick, who was rolling his own over a pint, said: "I think it's brilliant. Before this I was standing outside no matter what the weather was like. I don't know whether they can get away with it but there you are."

Friend Stacey Thomas, a fellow smoker, said: "It's a great idea."

Kerry said non-smokers came into the Smoking Research Centre, where they must also first fill in the questionnaire, because they didn't want to be left out.

Non-smoker Rob Hudson, also in the tap room, who has been coming to the Cutting Edge 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."

Kerry, who stayed on at the pub after her previous employers there went bust – it followed a 400 name petition for her to stay – admitted she has not yet taken legal advice but is relying on James.

Until the 'Smoking Research Centre' the 60s pub which she joined last October was struggling to survive.

She believes she has complied with the regulations by making sure the room is entirely separate from the lounge.

But today it looks like one pub's bid to beat the ban is in ashes.

- The man behind the 'Smoking Research Centre' – see tomorrow's Diary.

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