Australian opera company bans 'Carmen' for smoking

Australian opera company bans 'Carmen' over smoking scenes as part of sponsorship deal

Australian opera company bans 'Carmen' for smoking

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- An Australian opera company is being criticized for banning as part of a sponsorship deal any performances of "Carmen" because the 140-year-old French opera depicts smoking.

West Australian Opera for two years will not stage the popular opera about a Spanish gypsy named Carmen who works in a cigar factory. The ban lasts the duration of a 400,000 Australian dollar ($355,000) sponsorship deal with a state government health promotion agency, Healthway.

The deal begins in March and was revealed in the media on Wednesday. It has split Australians among those who complain of a nanny state and those who applaud its positive public health message.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday condemned the deal as "political correctness gone crazy."