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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Smoking Stones avoid stage fine
Rolling Stones
The Stones were playing the first of three UK gigs at the venue
The Rolling Stones flouted England's new smoking ban when two band members lit up on stage at London's O2 arena.

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

Guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood both smoked cigarettes during the first of the band's three gigs at the former Millennium Dome.

The maximum fine for a venue that allows people to break the ban, which came into force on 1 July, is 2,500.

A spokeswoman for the O2 said: "A band member appeared to have a cigarette, however it was extinguished almost faster than the message to put it out got to stage.

"We are sure it was an oversight and are grateful for their co-operation.

"Along with the rest of the country, we take the smoking ban seriously."

A spokesman for Greenwich Council said: "We have received no complaints from members of the public. We have reminded the O2 of their obligation to enforce the smoking legislation."

Richards, with a cigarette in hand, told concertgoers that "it's been a long haul" and "it's good be back" before launching into two songs.

The band are due to stage two more performances at the O2 arena, rounding off their Bigger Bang tour, which has been on the road for two years.

Richards also got into trouble for smoking on stage at a gig at Scotland's Hampden Park last year.

The veteran rocker escaped a fine after Glasgow City Council revealed the venue's stage was not covered by the Scottish smoking ban, which came into force in March 2006.

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