A light in the dark for smokers

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The Independent Online
IT MAY be the last gasp - or dog-end - of an unfashionable communal habit. Equally, it could be vaporous evidence of a genuine counter-revolution. Whichever: the audience's pleasure on being allowed to smoke to their hearts' content (or otherwise) in London's newest cinema last week was indisputable.

The establishment, Cinema Fumee, opened at the Brixton Academy on Friday. In a - seemingly reckless - gesture against modern social correctness, the management encourages patrons to puff away throughout the film screenings, sending up the kind of fog that once softened the features of movie idols of long ago. Cigarette vendors are in attendance.

That is not all. Customers have the right to eat and drink while watching the show. If your appetite is for hamburgers with onion, or hotdogs with mustard, feel free. There are, as most of us know, worse sins than mastication in a darkened auditorium. In any case the decibel count from popcorn has always been annoyingly high. So, in Cinema Fumee, when intermissions or the movie's boring bits permit, you may wander in and out of the bar, collect your collation, consume it, wash it down with wine or beer and enjoy a nice post-prandial smoke long before the last frame freezes.

Will the idea catch on? Will those of tender years be smitten? Does indulgence towards smokers permit the appearance of the hookah? Will the anti-smoking lobby charge in and ruin the film? Will the local authority fume and fulminate? As our smarting eyes squint upwards into the hazy screen, we ponder these questions in an idle manner, comforted by nearly-forgotten fragrances.

(Photograph omitted)