Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May have earned the wrath of anti-smoking campaigners for appearing to flout the public places smoking ban on their BBC2 show.

The pair lit Porsche-branded pipes on the show - filmed in a hanger in Godalming, Surrey - in a news item about items sold on the car firm's web site, while Richard Hammond abstained, having recently quit smoking.

Though the presenters were smoking a herbal honey mix, rather than tobacco, the corporation could still face a fine, as the public ban on smoking deems it illegal to light any item capable of being smoked in a workplace.

A BBC spokesperson commented: "During an item in last night's Top Gear, making fun of car merchandise, the presenters lit up branded pipes, which contained herbal tobacco.

"We are very upfront about the style and tone of the show, so viewers know what to expect."

The spokesperson added: "There were no complaints from members of the audience present during the filming."

According to the Porsche Design website, the pipe used is made of 40-year-old Bruyere wood which "refines the taste of tobacco and turns the enjoyment of pipe smoking into a unique experience".

It adds: "The cooling ribs cut into the material along the lines of the famous air-cool Porsche Boxster engines creating a thermal effect that cools the pipe bowl to a pleasant temperature."

Clarkson had at one point put the bowl of the Porsche pipe in his mouth, joking: "This is the 911 version - the hot bit goes at the back."

15/10/2007 17:42:42