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Prithee, hast thou a light for my pipe?

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in Human Resources

When Minnesota’s ban on smoking in restaurants and bars took effect in October, some astute restaurateurs noted it provided an exception for actors, who may light up during performances.

Since then, about 30 establishments in the state have made productions of themselves, printing up playbills, posting “Stage Entrance” and “Props Dept.” signs, and generally making merry.

Customers have gotten into the act, showing up in costume and speaking in their best king’s English. At Barnacles Resort and Campground along Lake Mille Lacs, customers have appeared in tights, feathered caps, swashbuckler boots and fairy wings. At The Rock in St. Paul, the costumes are low-key: A dollar buys you an “Act Now” button to pin on your shirt. The Queen City Sports Place on Minnesota’s Iron Range is playing “The Tobacco Monologues” nightly.

The faux theater has created a tempest at the Minnesota Department of Health, which has vowed to crack down with fines of up to $10,000. Much ado about nothing, the patrons say. They haven’t had this much fun in ages.

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