February 9, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

BBC lobbying to weaken Welsh smokefree regulations: Yes, this is real.

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation to amend the smokefree premises legislation to create an exemption that would allow allow performers to smoke in enclosed and partially enclosed spaces when filming for television or film.  The moving force behind this is the BBC, which has lobbied the first minister in Wales, Carwyn Jones, to create this exemption claiming that productions have stayed in England where there is currently such an exemption in the smokefree regulations.
Of all the crazy economic arguments I have heard for exposing people to secondhand smoke, this one takes the cake.
Are we really to believe that the BBC has ignored the fact that it just opened a major new production center in Cardiff, Wales to take advantage of lower labor costs that exist in London just so they can favor actors generate secondhand smoke? I think not.
Moreover, there would be nothing to stop BBC from having an actor wave around an unlit cigarette, cigar or pipe, then put the smoke in with CGI.  (BBC produces Dr. Who in Cardiff, so they certainly know how to do CGI there.)

There are, of course, some facts to keep in mind when working to kill this silly proposal:

1.  The UK has ratified the FCTC and this proposal violates FCTC articles 8 (smokefree) and 13 (advertising and promotion).  See especially WHO report on smoking in movies for details on the latter.

2.  There is absolutely no evidence that any movie production moved from one place to another because they couldn't smoke.

3. Controlling for a wide range of other factors, movies with smoking make less money, so the "economic" justification flies in the face of the evidence.

4.  Given this, one wonders what else is going on in the shadows.  After all, there is a long history of collaboration between Big Tobacco and the movie

5.  Even 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure is enough to trigger adverse cardiovascular effects of the type that trigger heart attacks.

6.  The only beneficiary of this change would be the tobacco industry.

If the BBC wants to lobby to get smoking laws changed, they should be lobbying the government in London to remove the exemption that allows actors and other film makers to be poisoned by secondhand smoke at BBC studios in London. 

Alternatively, in the name of realism, BBC should lobby for regulations requiring that only real tardises (time machines) be used when filming Dr. Who episodes in Cardiff.



Colorado no longer allows smoking during theatre productions and the
theatre companies have developed ways to simulate smoking without not
using the real product. For example, during a recent production of
Billy Elliot, which features a lot of smoking by coal miners, they
used a device that would light up in red to make it look like the tip
of the cigarette was lit. To simulate real smoke, some theatres have
used baby powder.
Pete Bialick, President
GASP of Colorado
(Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution)
2885 Aurora Ave Suite 37
Boulder CO 80303-2252
303-444-9799 (phone/fax)
mailto:[email protected]";info@gaspforair.org (E-mail)
Visit GASP's Great Web Sites
http://www.gaspforair.org" title="www.gaspforair.org";www.gaspforair.org
http://www.mysmokefreehousing.org" title="www.mysmokefreehousing.org";www.mysmokefreehousing.org
http://www.mysmokefreehousing.com" title="www.mysmokefreehousing.com";www.mysmokefreehousing.com
http://www.breathcolorado.org" title="www.breathcolorado.org";www.breathcolorado.org
“The nonsmokers’ rights movement is the most dangerous development to the viability of the tobacco industry that has yet occurred.”
Tobacco Institute, Roper Report, 1978


I have observed for many years that smoking appears to occur much more commonly in tv shows produced in Britain compared with Australia. In addition, smokers are often major characters who regularly and defiantly seem to flout smoking bans in their offices. Some of these portrayals no doubt reflect the "tough" fictional book characters the actors are portaying, however, the open defiance of internal, smoking restictions seems to push this theme to an exaggerated extreme.
Raoul A. Walsh, PhD
Conjoint Associate Professor
Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour,
University of Newcastle 2308
E-mail: mailto:[email protected]";raoul.walsh@newcastle.edu.au


As a former professional performer I have to agree entirely with Stan Glantz on this. Smokefree exemptions for performances are irresponsible in public health terms, a violation of work safety principles, and make no sense artistically. Do performers playing junkies shoot up real heroin? Do performers shoot real bullets at each other? In live stage performance actual smoking also threatens the health of the audience; in film and TV there's even less argument for it since as Stan pointed out, you can put in the smoke with CGI. As to convincingly portraying the effects of the cigarette on the smoker, actors are paid to act.
Stafford Sanders
ASH Australia; SmokeFree Australia workplace coalition
http://www.ashaust.org.au" title="www.ashaust.org.au";www.ashaust.org.au

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