Smoking within the context of a theatrical production should it be allowed??

April 18, 2010 - New York's Theatre Communications Group (TCG), a national service group representing 700 theater companies and 13,000 individuals, has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to rule in favor of three Colorado theater companies arguing that smoking within the context of a theatrical production is a First Amendment right of free expression.

Curious Theater, Paragon Theatre and the now defunct Theatre 13 have engaged in a four-year legal battle to win an exemption from Colorado's statewide indoor smoking ban for smoking during theatrical performances.

For three years, Denver's Curious Theatre has unsuccessfully argued in various courts that it should be exempt from the state's indoor smoking ban, contending that smoking is a form of creative expression that should be protected under free-speech rights. On Monday, December 14, 2009 the Colorado Supreme Court extinguished hopes that theater actors would be exempted from a statewide smoking ban. By a vote of 6-1 the court said the promotion of public health supersedes the right to free speech. Now Curious will petition the U.S. Supreme Court for the right to smoke non-tobacco products in its theatrical productions, artistic director Chip Walton announced Wednesday, December 30, 2009.

TCG executive director Teresa Eyring said in a brief filed Friday, April 16th, "Theatrical smoking has been a part of free expression in America since the First Amendment's ratification in 1791. Theaters rely on actors' expressive conduct, including smoking, to convey meaning in tandem with a play's dialogue, movement, mood and tone."

In all, 18 states have indoor smoking bans that prohibit theatrical smoking. Eyring argues that because they are inconsistent in how they interpret and enforce these laws, guidance from the high court is necessary.

It is not yet known whether the Supreme Court will hear the case.

Reference: National theater group urges high court to allow smoking in performances by John Moore,
The Denver Post, 4/18/2010.

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Colorado - Denver theater company to take smoking ban case to U.S. Supreme Court..;
Colorado - Supreme Court upholds ban of smoking on stage..;