A theatre show in the UK has been ordered to remove a cigar smoking scene from its production after complaints from the public.

The Palace Theatre in Paignton, Devon, said it could not risk a fine under the new smoking laws introduced last month.

The scene was part of a comedy routine in the variety show WOW and involves an actor who lights a cigar and takes about three puffs of smoke.

Torbay Council, which owns the Palace Theatre, said the use of cigarettes or cigars in theatre performances is a grey area and it is up to the local authorities to determine whether or not it is intrinsic to the show.

Promoter Gerry Cottle Jr said the decision was 'bureaucracy gone mad' and that the cigar scene was essential to the comedy routine.

A spokesman for the council said: 'There was never any threat of the show being pulled and the council continues to have a good working relationship with Mr Cottle and his team.'

'Following a small number of complaints from members of the audience who felt that the use of a lit cigar in the show was unnecessary the council spoke to Mr Cottle to see if there was an alternative.'

'Following an amicable discussion Mr Cottle agreed to drop the scene from his show as not to cause any further upset to members of the audience.'