I asked ASH if any member of the acting profession cared about this mole hill of an issue but, alas, supportive thespians can't take the heat and are too scared to speak out in public. I'm sure there's thousands of them cheering ASH on private though.
The beauty about this little battle is that ASH's Cardiff division has to take on their traditional friend and ally, the BBC. England's smoking ban allows smoking for theatrical purpose. Wales's does not. This has caused some problems for the BBC, such as having to redirect entire film crews from Cardiff to London. And so the Beeb wants an exemption along the English model, as does the rest of the Welsh TV and film industry.
ASH Wales will not be moved. The state-funded fake charity is battling over this trivial rule like Bloody Mary battled over Calais and, with the sweetest of ironies, has accused the BBC of bias.
It gets even better when you look at ASH's arguments for not allowing an exemption. Dick Puddlecote has had a lot of fun over the last year with ASH CEO Deborah Arnott's classic comment about the slippery slope AKA the "domino theory"—that once campaigners start on one industry, they soon move onto other industries. There is almost daily evidence that this is what happens—look at tobacco, alcohol, fizzy drinks and food—but ASH flatly dismiss such arguments as scare-mongering:
...the “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false.
So what is ASH's objection to allowing a teensy-weensy exemption to the smoking ban for the TV industry?
"This, we would argue, is a matter of convenience for the television industry - and health legislation should not be amended on commercial grounds.
"What industry is going to come next?"
Yeah, you know what it's like. You make an exemption for theatrical productions and the next thing you know every industry gets an exemption and the whole ban gets dismantled. Just like in, er, England.
"If this exemption is passed on the basis of commercially supporting a specific industry, we can expect a litany of requests from other industries such as pubs, clubs and the tourism industry for exemptions due to tough economic times."
As Nannying Tyrants has noticed, this sounds very much like an admission that the smoking ban hasn't worked out too well for pubs and clubs, despite all the promises from ASH. As indeed it hasn't.
And finally, the prize for using the word "industries" the most times in a single sentence goes to Cancer Research UK's "director of tobacco control", Jean King, who decided to stick her oar in.
"Our concern would be that other industries - and not just industries, but very powerful vested interests behind those industries - support those industries to get put forward cases."
You have to wonder how incoherent her interview was for the BBC to pick that out as her defining quote, but perhaps that's the old anti-ASH bias again. You can read more of the supposedly biased BBC coverage here and here. It is somehow both hilarious and deeply depressing at the same time.