Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wanna Smoke On The Job? Become An Actor

Under Oregon's smokefree workplace law, it's illegal to smoke indoors in virtually every public place in Oregon. A very short list of exceptions includes cigar bars and "smoke shops." Soon, you might be able to add live theater to that list. There's a push underway to craft an exemption to the smoking ban for performers in "a scripted stage, motion picture or television production" so long as "smoking is an integral part of the production."

Backers of the measure include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, though executive director Paul Nicholson tells me the festival generally uses tobacco-free herbal cigarettes when their productions call for someone to smoke on stage. Nicholson says it's unclear under current law whether herbal cigarettes are permitted. However, the proposed bill doesn't specify that an actor would need to choose an herbal cigarette over the traditional variety.

Allowing actors to smoke on stage created an interesting situation in Minnesota a few years ago. There, bars quickly figured out that if you call everyone in your bar an "actor" then everyone can light up. Ultimately, a court there disagreed with that interpretation. The Oregon measure is up for a hearing tomorrow morning in the House Business and Labor Committee.