Stub out smoking for sake of theatre audiences

From: Dr Stephen Tuck, Beechfield, South Otterington, Northallerton.

Since moving to this part of North Yorkshire, my wife and I have had the pleasure of attending many performances at the Harrogate Theatre. It is, therefore, with regret that I feel compelled to write to air a grievance and demand a refund.

Recently, we settled into our seats in anticipation of enjoying Noel Coward’s Private Lives, only to discover that cigarette smoking was to take place throughout the play.

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As I suffer from asthma, which is exacerbated by cigarette smoke, we were obliged to leave. As we left we overheard a number of other groups discussing this and leaving as a result. Surely, in the current economic climate the theatre cannot afford to lose customers so easily.

At first, we were simply disappointed at being forced to miss the play, but over the next hour or so this feeling was displaced by anger. We were effectively being victimised for my affliction and actively excluded from a public entertainment.

I would hasten to add that there was no indication on the publicity brochures about cigarette smoking. Having been caught out by this problem before, my wife had specifically asked about the possibility when booking the tickets and told that this was highly unlikely.

I cannot think of any justification for such flagrant flouting of the law, which states that smoking is prohibited in enclosed public spaces.

Artistic integrity has occasionally been quoted as a reason for allowing shocking behaviour. However, I fail to see how cigarette smoking could enhance the performance and excuse exposing the entire audience and the actors themselves to a known health hazard.