Why Denver Theater Companies Want to Alter the Smoking Ban

December 31 2009, 10:21 AM

Denver's Curious Theatre has never argued for the right to smoke tobacco in places where it is not allowed, such as inside restaurants and even in theaters. But the company, joined by co-plaintiffs Paragon Theatre and the now-defunct Theatre 13, are challenging the law. After all, sometimes a play requires a character to light up (and when they do, they're apt to smoke noncarcinogenic herbs that also fall under the ban). Earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 6-1 against allowing a smoking exemption for the theaters, saying the promotion of public health supersedes the right to free speech (via the Associated Press). Now Curious plans to petition the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, for the right to allow actors to smoke non-tobacco products as part of performances, artistic director Chip Walton tells The Denver Post. There's no guarantee the court will take up the matter, but Walton notes that of the 24 states with indoor smoking bans, half allow exemptions for theatrical performances, an indication that perhaps justices ought to clarify.