Smoking exemption for actors angers BMA
31 January 2013
BMA Cymru Wales is to voice its opposition to plans to exempt actors on TV and film sets from the smoking ban later this month.
The Welsh government wants to amend the current ban on smoking in public places and argues that TV and film productions could be lost to England, where such a smoking ban exemption already exists.
The Welsh Assembly enterprise and business committee and health and social care committee have set up a joint subcommittee to look into the issue before AMs vote on the plans later in the spring.
BMA Welsh council member Tony Calland will be giving evidence on behalf of the BMA on February 18.
Dr Calland said: ‘We were very pleased when the Welsh government, and later the UK government, introduced the smoking ban.
‘It has been especially successful in both reducing the number of people smoking by helping smokers to stop. It has also reduced the number of acute coronary events.
‘These are evidence-based effects of the ban and there is not a shred of an argument to support any loosening of the ban. Actors on a stage or on a film set can use artificial cigarettes.
‘The public smoking ban is one of the most successful public health policies for years and there is no evidence to allow it to be watered down or undermined.’
BBC Wales, which is in support of an exemption, has already had to correct some of its evidence to the subcommittee.
Appearing before AMs last week, head of BBC Wales Productions Clare Hudson claimed a storyline in hospital drama Casualty had had to be changed because of the smoking ban.
Ms Hudson told AMs that a ‘cautionary moral tale’ about a smoker causing a fire in a hotel was ‘too difficult’ to film and that it had had to be changed.
Days later, BBC Wales withdrew the claim and asked the subcommittee for its evidence to be amended. It admitted that a way to shoot the scene had been found and that production staff had highlighted this after Ms Hudson’s appearance.