Wednesday 23 January 2013

Fun with ASH and the Beeb

ASH Wales spent yesterday furiously tweeting in support of their own campaign to forbid actors to smoke on camera in film studios. Do these zealots really believe they are adding one iota to the sum of human health by stopping a handful of cigarettes being smoked each year in the barn-size environment of a studio? Perhaps they do, for they are so insane that they seriously suggest that animated cigarettes be placed on actors' mouths in post-production using CGI technology. This is the world we live in today, folks. The giant asteroid cannot come too soon.

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.

ASH give some rather interesting examples of which industry's would be in this domino rally and why...

"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.


Ivan D said...

I wonder how many CRUK fun runs it takes to fund Jean King and Deborah Arnott.

proglodyte said...

As usual, it's not really about health...on the one hand the BBC expects viewers to believe their anti smoking propaganda (in this instance that SHS poses a serious risk to people in the workplace), on the other that their own employees welfare is less important than BBC commercial interests.

Forget the artistic integrity (whatever) bullshit, this is 100% about money. Hence, the BBC should surely accept that many 1000's of businesses and jobs have been lost due to the ban, and that it is partly responsible.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Yes, camera men and actors are allowed to expose themselves to the deadly risks from passive smoking, so why not bar staff?