A smokeless office - for smokers

BRITAIN'S BIGGEST tobacco company, stung by government moves to stamp out passive smoking at work, has created the perfect foil to its critics: a smoke-free office.

British American Tobacco commissioned a team of inventors to create special desks and computer consoles which literally suck cigarette smoke out of the air.

BAT's scientists have succeeded in making desks with hidden filtration devices which remove smoke particles from the atmosphere. The desks have mounted "air inlets" which are raised and protected by a "wall" so that workers cannot accidentally block them with files and loose papers.

Patents for "air treatment tables" were filed in December 1997 by BAT to stop other companies copying the invention. The company believes the table can be adapted for use in bars, shops and dining rooms.

"The present invention aims to provide a table in combination with air treatment means which provides improved air filtration efficiency," the patent says. "The table may be a dining table, a coffee table, a desk, a work bench, a bar, a counter, a console or similar."

The patent claims that the "air treatment" desk will be able to reduce by more than half the amount of smoke lingering in a room. Inventors have tested the device, which contains a removable filter cartridge, by leaving several smouldering cigarettes in a room and then evaluating the smoke that was left in the air.

"The peak value was obtained by lighting four cigarettes and allowing them to smoulder in the closed room," the patent says. "Without the air treatment means of the table in operation it was found that the control half-life was 55-60 minutes. With the air treatment means of the table in operation the half-life was found to be 13-15 minutes."

Cigarette companies have come under increasing pressure in recent years because of anti-smoking initiatives from health campaigners who want to reduce the incidence of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.

The Government's recent White Paper on smoking and health earmarked millions of pounds for reducing smoking in the workplace. It said that health and safety regulations would be tightened up to stamp out passive smoking in the office and outlined initiatives to create more smoke-free zones in public places.

Earlier this month BAT announced plans for a pounds 15bn merger with another cigarette manufacturer, Rothmans. Staff at BAT insist that the inventions have nothing to do with passive smoking - more that cigarette smoke can be "annoying".

"This is entirely consistent with our view that the way to deal with this particular problem is with ventilation," said a spokesman for BAT. "While we do not believe that cigarette smoke can be a health risk, we recognise that it is an irritant to non-smokers. Anything that can be done to help on the ventilation front is worth research."

But anti-tobacco campaigners believe the "comic book" inventions by BAT are a tacit admission that they are losing the passive smoking argument.

"They are prepared to design ridiculous Heath Robinson contraptions to keep smokers smoking in a world that has had enough of passive smoking," said Clive Bates, director of Ash. "This is the smoker's accessory taken to its absurd logical conclusion."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas