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Bars find new way to evade smoking ban with 'Theater Night'

Local bars have found a creative way to get around the state's smoking ban: "Theater Nights."

The statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, passed last year, allows actors to smoke onstage during a theatrical production. Dozens of bars are now dubbing their patrons to be "actors," thus bypassing the law.

An area lawyer told the Star Tribune that he estimates as many as 100 bars could be employing this technique this weekend.

The State Health Department is waiting for the state attorney general's opinion on the legality of the theater nights. State legislators expected the loophole to be plugged soon.

Several local bar owners have reported that the theater nights have significantly increased their business.