The Lee Strasberg Institute for Tobacco Studies

Smokers in the Gopher State are coming up with some clever ways of circumventing Minnesota's smoking ban. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports on a pomo experiment in group theater sweeping the Twin City bar scene:

Dozens of bars are expected to stage "theater nights'' this weekend in which patrons are dubbed actors. The [anti-smoking] law, which went into effect in October, permits performers to smoke during a theatrical production. "Two weeks ago, we had one bar doing this,'' said Mark Benjamin, a criminal defense attorney who launched the theater-night idea. He estimates 50 to 100 bars could be on tap for theater nights this weekend based on phone calls, e-mails and requests for the how-to-stage-a-theater-night packet that he's devised. And many bar owners are passing on the information quickly among themselves without getting in contact with him.

[...]

Lisa Anderson, owner of Mike's Uptown bar in Hill City, said that last Saturday she staged a "theater night" and packed in four times the usual crowd that has come in since the smoking ban took effect. Anderson said she has been helping other bar owners who want to put on their own tobacco productions. "I'm going to continue to do this,'' she said. "It increased my business.''

As Jacob Sullum pointed out recently, the town of Belmont, California, which allows special dispensation for theatrical productions "where smoking is an integral part of the story."

Back in 1998, Sullum joined reason.tv star Drew Carey to protest California's smoking ban by staging a "smoke-in" in Los Angeles.

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  • ||

    This is wrong on so many levels, because while technically legal, it violated the spirit of the law which is to ruduce smoking and increase health.

  • ||

    I LOVE IT. Now, we just need to have some "productions" around the Mankato area.

  • kinnath||

    This is right on so many levels, because the law violated the spirit of the constitution which is to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  • Abdul||

    I suspect this whole "acting" scam can help people circumvent laws against prostitution too.

    "She's no hooker! She's just method acting."

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    Susan, this is right on so many levels. I support the violation of stupid laws.

  • ||

    "Two weeks ago, we had one bar doing this,'' said Mark Benjamin, a criminal defense attorney who launched the theater-night idea. He estimates 50 to 100 bars could be on tap for theater nights this weekend based on phone calls, e-mails and requests for the how-to-stage-a-theater-night packet that he's devised. And many bar owners are passing on the information quickly among themselves without getting in contact with him.
    [...]


    Someone, anyone, sticking it to the nanny staters pleases me. I may have to re-evaluate my position that all lawyers are assholes.

  • robc||

    Abdul,

    Ive always wondered about the distinction between prostitutes and porno films.

    If you set up cameras, does that mean it isnt prostitution its paying to appear in a movie instead?

  • ||

    Susan | February 22, 2008, 2:53pm | #
    This is wrong on so many levels, because while technically legal, it violated the spirit of the law which is to ruduce smoking and increase health.



    Haw haw haw! The spirit of the law ain't that quaint. Where is the legal (or spiritual for that matter) authority saying that the spirit of a law has any validity?

    And please, if possible, define exactly what the spirit of the law is dear Susan? Isn't it just some airy-fairy idea that the law is "good" and everyone should know that it is "good" and it is only meant for the "good" of society, and to protect people from "not goodness"(i.e. anything they might choose for themselves)?

    And if not, tell me how it can be violated, and what, if any is the penalty for its violation?

    If the only penalty is a whiny posting from a troll, folks ain't likely to be too concerned about not violating it, and therefore any perceived "goodness" of it leaks away, and "bad" people continue to refuse to act "good"...

    And lawmakers are encouraged to make another law (with attached spirit of) in order to do further "good". (to self: hmmm sounds like gun control laws.)

    And besides that, speaking of violating spirits what kinnath said below:

    kinnath | February 22, 2008, 3:01pm | #
    This is right on so many levels, because the law violated the spirit of the constitution which is to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.



    But since the subject has been brought up, is spirit violation actually just sexual relations with an under age ghost, or the ghost of an under age person... and would it make Susan's (may I call you Susie?) posting pertinent if the death was caused either by smoking or by acting?

  • Peter||

    Spread the word! I just saw a play in Hollywood at some little hole in the wall theatre where they were smoking like chimneys. Los Angeles bar owners need to get in on this. I mean if it can fly in Minnesota, it sure as hell would pass muster in flaky Lala land, where I know for a fact that "performance art" is already a pretty stable hallmark of the nightlife scene.

    And SHIT, I just had a great idea ... what if a bar opened that called itself, "The Theatre" or something to that effect, essentially marketing themselves officially as a performance space that happens to serve food. Brilliant! My local congressman(douchebag) is Henry Waxman, and he would be furious!!!

  • GG||

    Good old American ingenuity!

    "Isn't America neat?" /Richard Martin

  • suezq@aol.com||

    And please, if possible, define exactly what the spirit of the law is dear Susan?

    The purpose of the law. Laws are meant to protect us, it is wrong to break the law.

    Susan, this is right on so many levels. I support the violation of stupid laws.

    Not when I'm paying your health insurance thru taxes, I have a right to expect the the government will make laws to make us healthy to save money.

  • ||

    "Not when I'm paying your health insurance thru taxes, I have a right to expect the the government will make laws to make us healthy to save money."

    Make us? Do you know what kind of people you are talking to? Would you support a law "making" people eat healthier? "Making" people exercise?

  • ||

    suezq@aol.com

    Train trestle, river span or highway overpass?

    Just curious.

  • ||

    Stop feeding the troll and she'll go away.

  • LarryA||

    Not when I'm paying your health insurance thru taxes, I have a right to expect the the government will make laws to make us healthy to save money.

    One more time. Susie! Wake up! The healthier we are, the longer we live, the more it costs you.

  • SueZQ@aol.com||

    Make us? Do you know what kind of people you are talking to? Would you support a law "making" people eat healthier? "Making" people exercise?

    Slippery slope...

  • kinnath||

    So is suzzie a new sock puppet for Juanita?

  • fat bastard||

    Slippery slope... leads to sloppy seconds

  • ||

    Now cigarette smoking squares are staging "smoke-ins" instead of "sit-ins", just like them hippies had to in the '60's.

    /Crazy circle now complete.

  • Peter||

    Well, ZigZag,

    Now that the far left has effectively become the "establishment" the true counterculture has become those who defend the virtues of individual liberty.

    My mother's a ideologue Democrat, and our arguments sound like a Bizzaro World version of the typical long-hair baby-boomer tryst over the Sunday Casserole with his Great Generation parents.

  • local drinker||

    Thank god they ignore the ban in bars where cops hang out!

  • duster||

    I can only hope that the number of "actors" in this country increase exponentially.

    Way to work the system!

  • ||

    I just want to say I offered this very idea (complete with a script) here on H and R about a year ago. Where are my royalties?

  • Kolohe||

    Club Juanna outside Orlando did this about a decade ago, but it was nudity not smoking ban

    Three times a week, naked chicks would perform Macbeth

  • Geotpf||

    Here's the State of California's anti-smoking law:

    http://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/dosh_publications/smoking.html

    There are a whole bunch of exceptions to the ban on smoking in workplaces, but the one in question is as follows:

    "Theatrical production sites, if smoking is an integral part of the story"

    That is, if you have a play where a character smokes, go right ahead. I assume this includes movies and TV productions as well.

  • Robert||

    The way they get around it in NYC is that here the law applies only to smokable tobacco products. So on stage they smoke non-tobacco products. However, the actors complain they do more damage to their throats than tobacco smokes do.

  • yoshi||

    @susan

    How does one "increase" health?

    If you really are worried about health costs you should be encouraging people to smoke - they die earlier thus are less expensive in the long run.

  • Paul||

    said Mark Benjamin, a criminal defense attorney [who desperately needs the business and is hoping to create an entire client base after the arrests are made] launched the theater-night idea.

    Anyone else read this the same way?

  • ||

    Paul | February 22, 2008, 7:33pm | #
    said Mark Benjamin, a criminal defense attorney [who desperately needs the business and is hoping to create an entire client base after the arrests are made] launched the theater-night idea.

    Anyone else read this the same way?



    He is:
    a) A hungry and imaginative lawyer
    b) A lawyer who invested in a bar or theatrical productions
    c) Libertarian ie. believes in personal responsibility
    d) All of the above
    e) None of the above

    Now back to feeding a troll, I'll stop after this...

    suezq@aol.com | February 22, 2008, 3:51pm | #
    And please, if possible, define exactly what the spirit of the law is dear Susan?

    The purpose of the law. Laws are meant to protect us, it is wrong to break the law.



    Your original statement was that it was "wrong on so many levels" because the spirit of the law was violated, now you say it is "wrong to break the law". Uh huh, and how that answers the request that was made of you "... define exactly what the spirit of the law is... just plain escapes me.

    You continue side-stepping WTF you mean by the "spirit of the law" and how (why) it has any valid standing in this situation.

    And as far as I understand the issue, the law was NOT broken. (Whether breaking this or any other law is right or wrong is an entirely different issue).

    Those good and protective folks you respect so much, the ones who made this law, obviously didn't feel it necessary to "protect" actors since it allows people in a theatrical production to smoke without penalty. It may be coming soon, but so far I haven't seen anything about a legal definition of actor?


    Susan, this is right on so many levels. I support the violation of stupid laws.

    Not when I'm paying your health insurance thru taxes, I have a right to expect the the government will make laws to make us healthy to save money.



    You are not paying my health insurance, I don't have a job (am self employed) so feel free to stop paying the government on my account. Yes you have a right to expect anything you like, you just don't have a right to make me do what YOU think is right - get the difference?

  • ||

    You are not paying my health insurance, I don't have a job (am self employed) so feel free to stop paying the government on my account.

    Bingo. I don't have health insurance, either, so she couldn't possibly be paying it. However, if she wants to send me some money to cover my medical expenses, I'd be willing to consider some contractual requirements.

    Ultimately, though, no one should be forced to pay somebody else's health insurance or medical expenses, not even Susan. So, Susan, instead of expecting people to obey smoking bans, why don't you bug your politicians to do away with coercive, socialistic health plans, instead?

  • resimler||

    How does one "increase" health?

  • ed||

    My local congressman (douchebag) is Henry Waxman

    Oh, the horror!

  • ||

    How does one "increase" health?

    By decreasing freedom, silly!

    Everyone knows that health and freedom are inversely correlated. Like security.

  • Jeremy C. Garland||

    Using this same logic, couldn't prostitution be made legal by just doing a little play-acting?

    I always the laws against prostitution could be challenged by people paying to "act" instead of paying for sex. No?

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