I'm fuming!

Comic magician to fight fag ban

Comedy magician Pete Firman has vowed to defy the smoking ban every night of the Edinburgh Fringe – by consuming an entire pack of cigarettes at once.

The illusionist says he is prepared to break the law with a trick in which he lights 20 cigarettes and smokes them all before swallowing them as they smoulder.

In England, he is able to argue that smoking is ‘integral to the act’, which allows an exemption to the law, though an exact legal definition of such ‘artistic integrity’ has not yet been tested.

But when he performs his show at the Edinburgh Fringe next month, he faces a £50 fine every night as the exemption does not apply in Scottish law.

Furthermore, he could be fined £1,000 as a ‘persistent offender’, while his venue, the Smirnoff Underbelly, faces a £5,000 fine for letting him do it and could even lose its entertainment licence, jeopardising every show that is performed there.

Firman, who starred in Channel 4's Dirty Tricks, told the Edinburgh Evening News: ‘I don't have a problem with the idea of a smoking ban, but I find it ridiculous that performers like myself are prohibited from lighting up on stage as part of their act.

‘In England and Wales there is a dispensation for performers who need to smoke. It's just crazy that I will be able to do this trick in venues there, but not at the biggest festival in the world.

‘I spent three months practising this part of the act, so I'm not going to back down and cut it out.’

At last year’s, Mel Smith stoked a row by saying he would smoke on stage at the Assembly Rooms when playing Winston Churchill, but backing down because of the effect his stance could have on the venue.

Here is Firman performing the trick:

Published: 12 Jul 2007

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