Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday refused to exempt theater actors from a statewide smoking ban during their performances. All but one of the justices voted to uphold lower-court decisions barring cigarette use in performances.
The move ends a three-year state fight in which a coalition of state and national theater groups argued in multiple courts that the ban infringed on free-speech rights and interfered with their abilities to accurately produce plays. Six justices found that regardless of whether onstage smoking is a form of expression, the ban on smoking in public places is constitutional because it aims to promote public health rather than stifle free speech.
No other state supreme court has decided a case involving a free-speech opposition to a state smoking ban, according to attorney A. Bruce Jones, who said his theater-company clients have not ruled out seeking a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the topic.