Bar opens bogus 'smoking research' area to bypass cigarette ban

Second only to "last call, Ms. Handler," it's the most common refrain among bar and club owners: "Smoking bans hurt business."

As a non-smoker, I love being able to come home after drinks without stinking like Patty Bouvier, but bar owners have claimed that indoor smoking bans, where they exist, have driven away a percentage of their business. A regular at the aptly named pub Cutting Edge, in Barnsley, England, studied the two-year-old ban and found a loophole: If smoking is conducted in the name of research, it can be done indoors.

So last week, the pub's owner (non-smoking, but pro-choice) opened a "smoking research centre" where patrons can simultaneously have a beer and a cigarette. All they have to do is fill out a legal questionnaire about their smoking habits first, mostly to satisfy the requirements of the letter of the law.