LATEST: English actor Mel Smith has backed down in his battle against new Scottish legislation which bans smoking in public places. The comedian, who is playing cigar-loving former British Prime Minister WINSTON CHURCHILL in ALLEGIANCE at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, defied the law and calls by his producer during the first performance at the Scottish capital's Assembly Rooms on Sunday (06AUG06). Smith earlier criticised the ban on smoking in public places, which came into force earlier this year (06), saying, "It would have delighted Adolf Hitler. Congratulations Scotland." He also threatened to warn the audience of his smoking, by saying, "A third of a Romeo y Julieta will be smoked during this performance. If you find that offensive, f**k off." Smith made his turn-around last night (07AUG06) after WILLIAM BURDETT-COUTTS, artistic director at the Assembly Rooms, was threatened with closure and a big fine if Smith continued to smoke. He says of last night's performance, "During the scene, Mel got the cigar and a lighter out, but then he put them down to the side. "I think it's absurd. In the context of an international festival like this, it's crazy. It's integral to the part of Churchill and it doesn't affect other people - it's just absurd."