Banning smoking in public places did not start with Mayor Mike. Ireland was the first place I remember reading about a smoking band, and the trend soon spread to the rest of the British Isles. Wales jumped on board in 2007, banning smoking in "enclosed and substantially enclosed" public places. Presumably that means that my freelancer's shanty, which is substantially enclosed against the wind and cold, would be a no go.
Such bans are common worldwide, but Wales has taken the enforcement one step farther, banning actors from lighting up on period film sets—a prohibition that, BBC Wales says, is a big pain in the ass. For shows like the revamped Upstairs Downstairs, , scenes featuring cigarettes must be shot in far-away England, where everything is much more expensive. Casualty was forced to drop a storyline in which a dropped cigarette set a hotel on fire, because doing it in a country where they use Ls sensibly proved too expensive. They go on:
The current legislation in Wales makes it impossible to film a lit cigarette as part of a scene. This is problematic for period dramas, which often feature cigarettes as a fact of period life. It is especially difficult to truthfully capture big, emotional moments in close-up shots, where fake cigarettes or CGI don’t create an honest effect.
By fake cigarettes, I assume they mean the herbal ones used on stage and in shows like Mad Men? I've watched a lot of people smoke, on film and in real life, and have never found Don Draper's Old Gold's to be anything but realistic. Though non-addictive, they're not much better for you than regular cigarettes, and the pains of doing take after take drawing smoke into your lungs must take its toll. What's more, they're awful to smoke. In an Esquire interview a couple of years ago, John Slattery called them "Terrible."
"They're like smoking sand," he said. "You take a drag and you've got half the cigarette in your mouth and half on your pants. You're trying to act smooth and you're on fire!"
Or has Wales said no to those as well?
The BBC complaint is especially interesting to a yank, who imagines the BBC to be more beholden to the government than they actually are. They're right to complain about the ban. I'm all for keeping smoking out of public places—although I sometimes wonder if bars shouldn't be allowed to choose—but for god's sake, it's a film set! People know it isn't real!
As far as theater goes, I assume this means that Welsh audiences have been treated to five years of actors picking cigarettes up, holding them for a minute, and putting them back down. I always find smoking on stage a bit distracting. Actors have so much other things to do that it's almost impossible to smoke naturally. Whenever a Broadway actor lights up, all I can think is, "Boy, I bet he doesn't smoke in real life. Those vocal chords are valuable!" That said, period productions need a certain blue smoke haze. Grow up, Wales. Let our actors smoke.