June 19th, 2024

Quebec court overturns judgment against theatres who allowed smoking on stage

By The Canadian Press on May 29, 2024.

The Quebec Superior Court is seen in Montreal, Wednesday, March 27, 2019. A Quebec judge has ruled that smoking during a stage performance is a valid form of artistic expression, overturning a lower court's decision and aquitting three theatres that had been fined for allowing the practice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL – A Quebec judge has ruled that smoking during a stage performance is a valid form of artistic expression, overturning a lower court’s decision and clearing three theatres that had been fined for allowing the practice.

Superior Court Justice Jean-François Émond ruled today that the act of smoking during a fictional performance in order to convey a message is “expressive content” protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Three Quebec City theatres had gone to court to challenge fines they’d received for allowing actors to smoke herb-filled cigarettes on stage between 2017 and 2019, claiming the tickets violated their freedom of expression.

A judge in 2021 ruled against them, concluding the theatres’ rights to artistic expression extended only to portraying or simulating smoking, and not to lighting up and inhaling from a cigarette, even if it did not contain tobacco.

But Émond said the first judge erred in concluding that no message was conveyed by the act of smoking, adding that artistic performances are at the heart of freedom of expression.

Émond declared invalid the section of Quebec’s tobacco control law banning smoking on the site of a cultural or artistic performance, but suspended the application of the decision for a year to allow the government to modify its legislation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2024.

Share this story:

8
-7
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments