The video that went up in smoke

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A smoker was left gasping when she complained about her faulty video recorder and was told it was suffering from "nicotine contamination".

Wendy Green, of Beeston, Nottinghamshire, bought the machine in March 1995 and has spent pounds 324 on repair bills, replacing damaged tape-heads three times. When she complained to the manufacturers after the fourth breakdown, their engineers took it away for examination.

Company chiefs wrote to her to say they had found the problem - nicotine contamination which was wearing down the heads. A spokesman for manufacturers JVC said: "Nicotine deposits inside the machine have caused excessive drag on tapes, wearing down the heads."

Mrs Green, 53, who smokes 20 a day, said: "I have never heard of smoking damaging the health of a video recorder." She added: "I was almost laughed out of the shops when I was looking for a new one and asked them if my smoking would affect it."