Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 16:48 UK

Landlady's smoking bid abandoned

Customer smoking at The Cutting Edge pub
Pubgoers have taken advantage of the chance to sidestep the smoking ban

A landlady's bid to save her business by creating a "smoking research room" has been abandoned after she faced losing the pub.

Kerry Fenton aimed to sidestep smoking regulations by designating a room at the Cutting Edge pub in Worsbrough, South Yorkshire, for smoking research.

She had been told customers would be able to smoke legally if they filled in a questionnaire on smoking habits.

Pub owner Punch Taverns said she was in breach of her agreement.

Ms Fenton said that before introducing the smoking room last Friday only a handful of people came into the struggling pub at weekends.

'Condemned decision'

Since adopting the practice, she said the number of customers had increased almost five-fold.

The "loophole" relied on a close reading of The Smoke-Free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulations 2007, part of which includes conditions for research into smoking.

But smoking is now banned again after the pub's owners told her she was in breach of her agreement, which could result in her losing the business.

She told BBC News: "Punch told me I was not allowed to use the room for anything other than the sale of alcohol and that I must stop immediately otherwise face losing my job."

A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns said: "Punch has condemned the decision of our licensee to undertake this."

She added that Ms Fenton could be asked to leave the pub if she continued to breach her agreement.



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