Neutral atoms in the tokamak edge affect the electric field and plasma flow through charge exchange. Here, it is shown that these effects depend sensitively on the poloidal location of the atoms. It is found that the radial electric field and toroidal flow velocity in a collisional edge plasma are largest if the atoms are concentrated on the inboard side. This feature may explain MAST and COMPASS-D observations indicating easier H -mode access for inboard gas puffing. The results suggest an external means of controlling the toroidal flow and radial electric field and their shear, and have motivated further MAST measurements appearing to support the predictions.