Smoking laws have become more stringent and present everywhere in the past decade, with smoking being banned in many places, including the workplace. In Wales, however, this sort of law has caused an unintended consequence.
BBC1 has a long running show called Casualty, and for an upcoming episode, the staff wanted to show the dangers of smoking by portraying a smoker setting a hotel on fire. However, smoking in the workplace is strictly prohibited, and this includes actors making a TV show.
England has a slightly less stringent law, but Welsh law bans smoking in any type of enclosed public space, or work areas, which is what this work environment would be. The hospital drama’s plans came to a halt because of this, even though it could be argued that it would have been in the public’s best interests.
Clare Hudson, the head of productions at BBC Wales, spoke to the Welsh National Assembly and said that this smoking ban could be costly for the economy, saying that it could affect economic growth. Without this new burden, she said, the production crew would be more successful.
There are of course alternatives. For one episode, the crew actually had to go outside of Wales to shoot some of the scenes, making it seem like they were still on location. There are also computer animations that can replicate a cigarette. However, Clare said that real smoking was more authentic, and looked more real.
The legislation was introduced in 2007, banning smoking completely, and Labour member Mark Drakeford said that it was morally repugnant to want to relax those laws simply because England had more lax legislations. Ash, an anti-smoking group, also said that the protection of the public health should come before any economic concern.