Bars in Minnesota have discovered a loophole to resist the public smoking bans sweeping the world.
About 30 drinking establishments in the mid-western state have exploited an exemption for performers in theatrical productions in a recently imposed ban on smoking in restaurants and other nightspots.
The Minnesota ban allows actors to light up in character during theatrical performances as long as patrons are notified in advance. In response, bars are staging faux theatre productions with cigarettes as props. Some establishments have printed playbills, encouraged customers to come in costume and declared them all to be actors.
Brian Bauman, the owner of The Rock bar in St Paul, said his smoking patrons were "playing themselves" before the ban was imposed, adding: "We call the production 'Before the Ban!'"
Minnesota's health department has promised to crack down on such theatre nights with fines of up to £5,000.
Sunday, 9 March 2008
Theatrical production of the day
Always nice to see people finding new and inventive ways of sticking two fingers up at the nanny statists: