Smoking Ban in Theaters Under Review

If you’re performing a play in which smoking is an integral part of the character, you have the right to smoke on stage, right? It’s part of your rights to property, contract, and free speech, right? Wrong. Colorado’s smoking ban makes no exceptions for this.

Thankfully, the Denver Post reports:

The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to review the constitutionality of the statewide smoking ban as it is applied to live theater performances.

This is the first victory in a two-year legal battle between three local theater companies and the Colorado Department of Health.

Curious Theatre, Paragon Theatre and Boulder’s Theatre 13 argue that smoking onstage is expressive behavior protected by the First Amendment. A Denver district judge rejected that argument in October 2006, and a three-member appellate court followed suit last March.

The review will begin in March.

It is a tragedy and an injustice, however, that the entire smoking ban is not up for review, for the smoking ban is thoroughly unjust. It violates not only the right of free speech but the right of property and contract.

Article II of the Colorado Constitution contains these provisions:

Section 3. Inalienable rights.

All persons have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Section 10. Freedom of speech and press.

No law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech; every person shall be free to speak, write or publish whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuse of that liberty…

Section 28. Rights reserved not disparaged.

The enumeration in this constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny, impair or disparage others retained by the people.

The smoking ban clearly is a violation of some people’s liberty and rights, and it should be overturned or repealed. Whether owners of establishments ban smoking on their property, and whether customers choose to enter certain establishments based on their policies, is properly up to them.