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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 October 2007, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Top Gear pipes anger anti-smokers
Jeremy Clarkson and James May
Clarkson and May lit pipes filled with herbal tobacco
Anti-smoking campaigners have asked the BBC to apologise after Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May lit pipes on Sunday's show.

"Smoking in a studio is illegal. We would hope programme-makers make some form of apology," said a spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

Waverley Borough Council said it was investigating the incident at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.

The BBC declined to comment on whether or not what took place was illegal.

All three of the show's presenters pulled pipes out from under their chairs during a discussion about Porsche-branded products, but Richard Hammond did not light up, having recently given up smoking.

Richard Hammond
Hammond declined to light his pipe

After putting the wrong end of the pipe in his mouth, Clarkson, 47, was seen running from the stage.

The ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces in England was introduced in July, following similar laws in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Flouting the ban can result in fines of up to 50 for individuals and 2,500 for businesses who allow people to smoke on their premises.

The BBC's spokeswoman said it had received just a couple of viewers' complaints.

'No audience complaints'

"During an item in Top Gear, making fun of car merchandise, the presenters lit up branded pipes, which contained herbal tobacco," she said.

"We are very upfront about the style and tone of the show, so viewers know what to expect."

"There were no complaints from members of the audience present during the filming," she added.

One audience member told the BBC News website: "No-one in the audience seemed to mind when they lit up - people laughed, although the room did get quite smoky."

'Not appropriate'

Ash's spokeswoman said smoking was "not appropriate for the BBC".

"There are no exceptions," she said, adding: "You cannot smoke in a public place. This isn't covered by artistic integrity."

She said she did not consider it appropriate to fine the BBC, but that producers "should be reminded at the very least of the law, and make sure they abide by it".

A spokeswoman for Waverley Borough Council said footage of the show had not yet been viewed, but added: "Smoking is not permitted in a smoke-free place."

The Rolling Stones flouted the ban in August when Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood smoked cigarettes during a gig at London's O2 arena.

The venue was not fined after Greenwich Council said it was "satisfied" the incident was a one-off.

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