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Casualty story binned over smoking ban

A STORYLINE in UK TV drama Casualty warning about the dangers of smoking had to be binned because of Wales's anti-smoking laws.

Since last year the BBC show has been filmed in Cardiff, which, like the rest of the country, has been enjoying a boom in its creative industries thanks to programmes such as Doctor Who and Gavin And Stacey.

But bosses fear the industry in Wales could be losing as much as £20m (¤24m) as production companies choose England as a location because it does not ban the filming of real smoking.

BBC Wales head of productions Clare Hudson called on Welsh Assembly Members to amend the legislation as the current system meant crews had to go to Bristol to film smoking scenes or use expensive CGI techniques instead.



Workplace

She said: "We had one storyline in Casualty warning about the dangers of smoking and how it caused a fire in a hotel.

"But we could not go ahead with it because of the current legislation.

Like the rest of the UK, Wales has a ban on smoking in enclosed public places and in the workplace.

When introduced in 2007, coalition ministers in Wales deliberately included actors lighting up on set in the law, a move the now Labour-controlled Welsh Government wants to reverse.

But Labour AM Mark Drakeford questioned the need to amend the ban, saying it would be "morally repugnant" to endanger people's health just because different rules applied in England.

Action on Smoking campaign manager Felicity Waters said when the current legislation was introduced "the protection of public health had been elevated above all other concerns".

hnews@herald.ie