Smoking on Stage

Originally published December 21, 2011

On Monday my wife and I took a trip to London’s West End to see the Chicago musical. At some point during the first half, three of the actors lit cigarettes, which the law permits as part of a show. What struck me though was how this didn’t raise an eyebrow – from the audience or any politician or Deborah Arnott. It’s simply accepted. Yet it isn’t permitted for a musician to smoke on stage, as Slash, Keith Richards and Lily Allen all found out since the smoking ban. I don’t think the actors are smoking special cigarettes that are less dangerous than those smoked by musicians, so the disparity is noticeable and questionable. Is passive smoking not an issue when the smoke belongs to an actor, but is so deadly when from a musician that the smoke can reach the rafters and pose health problems to all in the audience?

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