Smoking is an issue that has entered into the public eye since the health concerns over cigarettes started to emerge. The more dialogue that has emerged about smoking, the more art, including plays, have hit the scene focusing on the same topic. As a result, several plays written on themes that touch on smoking have been written.
Plays for Children
Some plays written for child audiences have a clear anti-smoking message. These plays are often put on by touring theater companies that offer educational and entertaining content for school audiences. These plays often use humor along with real facts about smoking to persuade children not to smoke. Teachers may choose to do these plays in-class as anti-smoking activities. "Dude, Where's My Lungs" and "Think" are examples of scripts for children that are against smoking.
In some plays, smoking is not the central theme of the play, but there are characters heavily defined by their cigarette habit. This allows the play to explore smoking without being as heavy-handed as an educational piece for children. "Cigarettes and Chocolate," by Anthony Minghella, is a play of this type. The play is about a woman who gives up speaking and her friends' reaction to that choice, one of whom is an intense smoker. "Bash," by Neil Labute, also features a character for whom smoking is an emotional crutch. The play features a woman telling the story of a relationship she had with a teacher. She smokes throughout the play.
Plays About Lung Cancer
An interesting drama focuses on the results of smoking rather than on the actual act itself. Plays that focus on lung cancer present the audience with the intense drama of a life-threatening condition and the effect it has upon the person afflicted, as well as on the loved ones. Sarah Kane's "Blasted" and Neal Bell's "Now You See Me" both touch upon lung cancer. It is impossible to even mention lung cancer these days without instantly conjuring visions of cigarettes. The Kane play is the story of a reporter dying of the disease who rapes a woman as a metaphor of sorts for civil war. Bell's piece is about reality television and its willingness to do anything for ratings, including exploiting a woman dying of lung cancer.
Smoking in the Theater
For many years now, smoking in the theater has been a common convention. However, laws are appearing everywhere that make it illegal for actors to smoke on stage. Health concerns convince theater companies to use fake cigarettes even where law does not require it. The result is that while there may be plays about smoking for theater companies to produce, most of those productions don't include any actual smoking. Companies now rely on props instead of the real thing.