'Actors' Beat Smoking Ban in Minn. Bars

Owners exploit loophole that lets thespians light up
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Mar 6, 2008 8:21 PM CST
Billy Parrott, an "improvisational actor" by dint of a $1 badge, enjoys a smoke at The Rock Nightclub in Maplewood, Minn. Wed, March 5, 2008. Because a new smoking ban in Minnesota's bars contains an...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Stage performers are the only exception to the new smoking ban in Minnesota bars, so patrons are turning temporarily thespian and lighting up. The only props required at some of the 30 bars working the loophole are cigarettes and ashtrays—though some get more creative. "They're playing themselves before Oct. 1," one owner said. "You know, before there was a smoking ban."

One bar launched a Mardi Gras theme for its latest "theater night," and smokers came dressed as pirates and Victorian matrons; another stages "Tobacco Monologues." The histrionics are good for business: revenue fell 30% at one bar after the ban but bounced back with theater nights, AP reports. An unamused health department plans to start fining bars up to $10,000.