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IF most of your workforce are heavy smokers then you should read this. Merloni, the domestic appliance manufacturer, recently banned smoking at its Uxbridge factory.

With more than two-thirds of the workforce smoking, the unofficial fag breaks were not in the best interests of productivity. So the company called in John Landale, an acupuncturist from Hebden Bridge.

He has just completed sewing surgical stitches into the ears of 40 of the factory's 60 workers. And, at pounds 40 a head, Merloni seems to think it is money well spent.

'All the volunteers have done very well - not one of them has slipped out for a smoke yet.'