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In Chicago, No Smoking Means No Smoking - On Stage, Too!

NO EXCEPTION TO IL, CHICAGO SMOKING BANS BY ACTORS IN THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES!

"Jersey Boys," the story of the early 1960's vocal group, The Four Seasons, is one of the most popular stage performances in Chicago these days.  Several scenes involve the actors lighting up, for realism and dramatic effect - as they did when the band debuted over 45 years ago.

In Chicago, however, the performances will lack that supposed smoky realism.  Since New Years Day, 2008, smoking has banned in virtually every indoor space in Illinois - including performers on stage. 

Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly, of the 42nd Ward, which includes the Downtown Chicago Theater District, has sought to change that - with a smoking exception for stage actors performing, where the smokes are part of the realism of the story.  For lack of support, however, he is backing off his proposal - at least temporarily - to allow smoking of herbal cigarettes by actors performing a play.

Opponents of the exception to the law felt it would set a bad precedent, and a bad example, especially for younger theater goers.  Those in favor point to exceptions made in New York City, where smoking of herbal cigarettes, within the context of a performance, is allowed.  They feel the "no exceptions" policy is akin to censorship.

Chicago 28th Ward Alderman Ed Smith, who wrote the Chicago smoking ban, questioned the safety of herbal cigarettes: "When you burn something, the carcinogens come out," he said.  Indeed, studies have shown, despite being tobacco and nicotine free, herbal cigarettes still produce tar and carbon monoxide - dangerous carcinogens when inhaled.

The American Cancer Society, as well as Joel Africk, President of the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago,  mirrored Alderman Smith's reaction.  "We're saying smoking doesn't belong in the theaters," Africk said. "It doesn't belong in any workplace."

See Hal Dardick's article in Tuesday's Chicago Tribune for more information.

DEAN MOSS & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008 5:59 PM by Dean's Team

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