‘All workers in Wales have the right to be protected from the harm of second hand smoke.’
That was the key message delivered by ASH Wales in the Senedd today (January 22nd) as we gave evidence to two Assembly Committees deliberating the issue of whether to create an amendment to Wales’s flagship smoke-free premises legislation for the creative industries.
ASH Wales has campaigned vigorously against an amendment for film and TV on the basis that all workers in Wales deserve protection from environmental tobacco smoke and that any dilution of the ban could create a precedent for other industries to challenge the legislation on commercial grounds.
The issue was referred to the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee after the Welsh Government withdrew its plan to ask AMs to vote on the issue last autumn, following an outcry from public health campaigners and AMs.
The Committees first heard evidence from the creative industries including BBC Wales which argued that Wales would lose out on productions to England unless the law was relaxed.
Felicity Waters, ASH Wales press and campaigns manager told the committees that the creative industries’ claim that offering smoking on set in Wales would bring jobs and more film companies to Wales was based “purely on speculation” and that realistic alternatives such as CGI and nicotine-free props were available and in regular use in productions made in Wales.
“For us this issue is quite a simple one. The legislation was designed to protect workers in Wales and should not be amended on commercial grounds.
“All workers have the right to be protected from the dangers of second-hand smoke. When the committee on smoking in public places considered this in 2004, they considered all of the commercial arguments.
“They accepted that there were going to be some costs to the legislation, but public health was elevated above all other considerations, and that still stands true today.”
AMs also heard evidence from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation who said that any amendment would be a serious backward step for Wales which once led the way in calling for a smoking ban in Wales.
The Committees will hear evidence from other bodies over the next few weeks and is due to publish a report in March.
Watch us on BBC Wales News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-21148983
Listen to the debate on BBC Radio Wales (2:47) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01q1khz
Please sign and share our petition to #keeptheban strong in Wales: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-welsh-government-keep-the-smoking-ban-strong-in-wales-2