High Court Verdict: Smoking allowed during plays

Three Quebec theaters embroiled in a legal saga to uphold the right to smoke on stage as part of a performance have won their case at the Court of Appeal, according to a ruling handed down Wednesday.

La Bordée Theatre, Theater du Trident and Premier Acte were all fined for allowing smoking in closed public spaces between 2017 and 2019.

The three fined art expression centers used the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and Freedoms to exempt the art world from anti-smoking legislation, without success.

In a judgment handed down in 2021, Judge Yannick Godrey ruled that “smoking tobacco during a theatrical performance does not constitute overt content because no message is conveyed” and that it does not fall within the scope of the freedom of speech protection. expression.

All three theaters appealed the decision of this first instance, and they finally won their case before Judge Jean-Francois Emond of the Superior Court of Quebec.

The latter believes that smoking on stage should be exempted from the smoking ban. La Bordée, Theater du Trident and Premier act acquitted.

“Although public health is an important issue in our society and justifies banning smoking in public places, the measure must contain exceptions in cases where the act of smoking in the context of a play is the work of actors. The effects of such a ban on artistic expression represent a serious attack,” he writes.

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