Some Minnesota bars are getting around smoking bans by holding “theater nights” and proclaiming everyone in the bar an “actor.” State law allows performers to smoke during theatrical performances. [Star-Tribune via BoingBoing]


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  1. forgottenpassword says:

    lol! i love it!!!!!

    Yep… there are so many laws on the books that if you look hard enough, you could probably find a way around anything!

    Sadly, this can also be used against you by cops etc.etc.. (meaning that you cant walk down a street without concievably breaking a law that is on the books somewhere).

  2. peggyhill says:

    hopefully there are theater nights in chicago.

  3. cde says:

    I expect municipal, state, and federal banhammer action real soon.

  4. V-effekt says:

    Wouldn’t you need a license to be a theater or be zoned properly for it? How many theaters have extensive liquor licenses or food? It seems much easier to just make it a “private club” for the evening. That is working in some parts of Germany at least.

  5. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    “Officer, I’m not drunk…I’m just a realllly good actor!”

  6. MercuryPDX says:

    @V-effekt: That’s how they got it temporarily lifted at a local bar. If became a “private club” with a $1 membership fee.

  7. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    A friend of mine is trying to get a liquor license in Maryland for a Cigar Bar. Cigar bars are exempt from the smoking ban as it stands now.

  8. Gorky says:

    This is great idea to get around government tyrrany. The way it SHOULD work is let smoking happen in bars and restaurants. Here in Pennsylvania it hasnt been outlawed yet and guess what? There are lots of bars and restaurants who see a business opportunity to have smoke free places to eat/drink and they do good business. That is the way it SHOULD work. Let the market decide. If you dont want to smoke or see/smell smoke there is nothing FORCING you to go patronize or work at an establishment that allows it. Go to one that doesnt. But instead we once again have the nanny state telling us what we can and cant do

  9. Bay State Darren says:

    “I wasn’t hitting on your girlfriend, bro…I was actiinng!

    Somebody sick whatever union theater actors belong to on them.

    [militant anti-smoker]

  10. @V-effekt: Um…dinner theaters?

    I think this is funny, and from what I have heard from my mother, entirely in keeping with the spirit of Minnesota.

    My mom said that Minnesota outlawed alcohol in strip clubs, so the owners separated their operations with a clear glass wall between their bar and their strip club. I’ve no idea how the strippers got tipped though.

  11. MARTHA__JONES says:

    @BayStateDarren: The actors union is Equity.

  12. MARTHA__JONES says:

    (also a militant anti-smoker/former smoker. I don’t wanna even smell it on your clothes. DISGUSTING.)

  13. ludwigk says:

    In much the same way, I don’t see why we don’t have impromptu porn studios where you can pay $50 and have sex with someone/something, and afterwards get a recording of it that you can keep (or shred, whatever). As long as you’re an actor in the act of producing porn, it’s not prostitution, and therefore legal.

    It’d be kind of like in the early days of rock and roll, where you’d pay $10 to record your band onto vinyl, then try and grease enough palms to get it some radio air time. Except that it’s really just an attempt to skirt absurd anti-prostitution laws.

  14. PeteRR says:

    I could really stand to get my vinyl pressed right about now.

  15. Gorky says:


    And it wasnt disgusting when YOU did it? Hypocrite

  16. Gorky says:


    The only problem with that is porn actors are PAID to be in the movie. If they were paying YOU $50 to appear in it, then it would be legal

  17. Bay State Darren says:

    @ludwigk: Yeah, I’ve wondered about that with the porn/prostitution thing, too.

  18. mac-phisto says:

    in conn., the vfw has done real well with the smoking ban as they are exempt (as a private club). technically, if you are not a member, you must be escorted by one, but most vfws have a 2 column sign-in register. guests sign in on the left & at the end of the nite, whatever post members are there sign in on the right.

    i remember reading in the new yorker (or new york magazine…i always mix them up) about some bars in nyc that received special exemptions under the ban b/c they were frequented by movers & shakers. gotta love the “as long as it doesn’t affect me” mentality of our elected officials.

    i like this actor idea though. pretty funny.

  19. samurailynn says:

    @ludwigk: There’s a club somewhere in Europe that does something similar, except I think they use it as “reality porn” for pay sites on the internet.

  20. samurailynn says:

    Even though I hate being around smoke, I don’t see anything wrong with this. I mean, you would know going into the bar that there were going to be people smoking. As long as there are some non-smoking establishments around town I don’t really care.

  21. Bay State Darren says:

    Again, speaking as a militant anti-smoker, I say there should be a handful of bars where smoking is allowed, just so long as it doesn’t mean trying to find a bar where I can breathe clean air [sorta] is hard.

    BTW, does the “actor” B.S. cover theatrical nudity at the bar in question?

  22. Bay State Darren says:

    @jkaufman101: That’s a little unneccesary, pal.

  23. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    I agree with BayStateDarren. Cut it out.

  24. D-Bo says:

    I’m not at all surprised by this. In the face of banning longstanding practices people will find a way. I’m sympathetic to those wanting to exercise their individual rights. I just don’t see how these wholesale prohibitions of public smoking will work in the long term.

  25. swalve says:

    I’m not entirely in favor of smoking bans, but IF there has to be one, it’s got to be for EVERYONE. Anything else is to create second class citizens.

  26. Bay State Darren says:

    @swalve: I think it’s less second-class than having to stand around outside with wind chill making it -5° to get a nic-fix, IMHO. [I’m amazed to see myself defending smokers. Keep your eyes peeled for flying pigs, ladies and gentlemen.]

  27. lukobe says:

    This is great! And I say this as someone who really dislikes smoking and have lost people to it. But I’ve never been subjected to secondhand smoke as an adult against my will. I’ve always known where to go to avoid it. (When Seattle’s ban was enacted around 80% of places were smoke-free anyway.) I don’t see how my convenience outweighs owners’ rights to allow this in their establishments.

    So, again, congrats to them for finding the loophole.

  28. MrMold says:

    Pennsyltucky has many areas where the only place to dine is the local bar and there aren’t many of those. Maybe Philadelphia has choices but anything north of 80 is pretty much Hooterville.

    Smoker rights? I’d believe it more if smokers were as considerate as my smoking friends. More often, the wretched weed whiffer will do all in their power to get upwind of you to detract from your enjoyment. When I labored in Maintenance, this was fun because all the a**hole smokers would get upwind and then I’d bring out the tornado fan. Ruined their fun, for sure

    If somebody urinated on food, clothing and hotel rooms, would you be as relaxed?

  29. MrMold says:

    Oh, the EPA draft document on second-hand smoke is a tough, governmentese tract but after you read it, you’ll never allow smoke near you or your kids again.

  30. catskyfire says:

    Sure, they have the loophole now, but they’re sort of screwing legitimate theater over. Most theatrical performances use clove cigarettes when called for, for the effect without the same tobacco.

    My city of Lincoln, Nebraska enacted a smoking ban, they didn’t exclude theatrical performances. And it does get odd sometimes. I’m a regular attendee of my local community playhouse, and they’ve done well at getting around it in a theatrical way, but it might be better if they didn’t have to.

    Example: Streetcar Named Desire. Lots of smoking, most of which is used to show the characters’ increasing agitation and nearing madness. They had cigarettes, and they had lighters, but the two never came in contact. They pretended to light a cigarette and pretended to smoke, but it would have been better with actual haze.

  31. KyleOrton says:

    @Gorky: I hate the logic that makes almost anything hypocritical. No one can ever learn? It’d be different if the person continued to smoke and maintain that they’re special.

    Let people learn and change their minds.

  32. CumaeanSibyl says:

    You know, if states that wanted to outlaw smoking would offer a smoking license, similar to a liquor license, I think that would be a good solution for everybody concerned. The state would get a little money from it, and some bars would opt out and remain smoke-free.

  33. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    V-effektHow many theaters have extensive liquor licenses or food?
    many of the more expensive theaters i’ve been to sell wine and beer (possibly scotch and some other liquors, i’ve never paid much attention) during the intermissions.

  34. V-effekt says:


    Right, but I guess my question should really be.. How many serve the actors during a performance. This loophole seems weak as you could argue that actors would not be patrons of the theater. Anyway… it is creative, but the private club idea seems to be working in a variety of locations. Also, I have seen a “Smoking Bus” in England. A double decker bus that parks outside of the bar and you can hop on and smoke. In Germany, they have mobile bus-bars and even subway bars you can rent for the night. (Yes, you can rent a subway line and ride around all night, drinking and smoking.) It wont be long until these mobile private clubs are more used by young people than old nostalgic people. Preisliste und Konditionen für die Colonia Tours 2008

  35. apotheosis says:

    This reminds me of that Captain Morgan commercial.

    + Watch video

  36. guspaz says:

    That’s a hilariously original solution, but it’s ethically wrong. Smoking is banned indoors in public places for a reason: because it’s a health hazard not only to those who smoke, but those who don’t.

    I, for one, am happy to live in a province where there are no loopholes to the indoor smoking ban. If I had my way, smoking would be banned everywhere except in private domiciles. I’m sick of smelling cigarette smoke in my apartment because some asshole who lives next to me is smoking up.

  37. cde says:

    @guspaz: An apartment is a private domicile, for one.

    And it’s not ethically wrong, for two. Everyone going there that night is explicitly told that people are going to smoke there. So they would know whether or not they want to go in. So noone that doesn’t mind the risk is going in and getting teh 2nd hand smoke.

  38. theycallmetak says:

    @ Catskyfire

    Cloves are just as if not more harmful than regular cigarettes. It’s the same tobacco with bits of clove and clove oil added before they roll it.