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Monday, March 10, 2008

In Minnesota, smoking ban no match for local thespians. Why didn’t we think of that?!

Posted By on Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 7:01 AM

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Ever since Ohio enacted its smoking ban, bartenders and their nicotine-loving patrons have been looking for clever ways to evade the new rules. While some bars -- which shall remain nameless, of course -- have set up smoker’s lounges in their basements, others are simply looking away as customers puff away, assuming that Ohio is too slow and under-funded to actually enforce the rules. But in Minnesota, where a smoking ban was enacted in October, our blue-collared brethren in the North have been forced to get just a tad more creative. ... According to an Associated Press article, Minnesotans are taking advantage of a strange loophole in their law that allows “performers in theatrical productions” to still smoke. More than 30 bars are now printing up playbills, referring to their customers as “actors,” and even encouraging them to show up in costume. The Rock, a metal bar in the suburbs of St. Paul, now hosts a “theater night,” where the “actors” simply sit around, drink, and, of course, chain smoke. And what is the name of the play they are performing, just in case a Department of Health investigator asks? “We call the production Before the Ban,” the bar’s owner told the AP. He describes the play as a sort of improvised one-act, where the “actors” are simply playing themselves before the ban was passed – with cigarettes in hand. Somebody get these dudes a Tony. Sadly, Ohioans have yet to find many loopholes in the law, leaving bars to simply rely on the state’s inability to enforce it to get away with lighting up. – Denise Grollmus
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