Quebec court upholds fines to theatres where actors smoked during performances

·1 min read

MONTREAL — A Quebec court judge has upheld fines issued to three Quebec City theatres where actors smoked on stage during performances.

The theatres had challenged the fines, arguing that the tickets violated their freedom of expression.

They claimed Quebec's total ban on indoor smoking goes too far, because it forbids actors from smoking even prop cigarettes on stage in order to respect a play's essence.

However, Judge Yannick Couture ruled that the act of smoking is not itself a form of expression and that because the debate was about how actors could portray smoking on stage -- not whether actors could play a character who smokes -- there was no infringement of their right to artistic expression.

Couture wrote in his decision that theatres could find other ways to depict smoking, including using special effects, and that they regularly find ways to show other illegal activities on stage, such as murder and drug use.

Quebec's Tobacco Control Act bans smoking in indoor public places across the province and makes it an offence for the operators of those places to tolerate smoking inside.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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