#keeptheban: Welsh Government drops contested proposal to amend smokefree premises legislation

Rosanne Palmer

Ash Wales/Ash Cymru

Editors note: this is an update to a blog post published on 3 May about a proposed amendment to Wales’ smoke free legislation to allow cast members to smoke on film and television sets.

The Welsh Government announced on 15 May that the proposals were being dropped. This move followed a review of the evidence submitted to the National Assembly for Wales’ inquiry into the amendment by the two principal ministers concerned – Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services and Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport.

Whilst the timing of the move was unexpected, it was clear from his time as Chair of the Health and Social Services Committee that Professor Drakeford was resolutely opposed to the amendment, a stance that he maintained when appointed as Health Minister in March this year. It has been suggested that, in addition to opposition from health organisations, including the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians, there was weak support for the amendment amongst Assembly Members (AMs). Given that the two ministers themselves were due to give evidence on 12 June, perhaps the timing is not so surprising after all.

Throughout the campaign, social media channels were used as a medium for maintaining pressure in opposition to the proposal, in particular the use of an on-line petition and the use of Twitter to both spread the message and communicate with important actors involved in the debate. Of particular note were the activities of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists in Wales in writing to AMs as well as other members of the Wales Tobacco Control Alliance in opposing the proposed amendment.

The same announcement also confirmed that the Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services had written to the UK Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, supporting the introduction of legislation on standardised packaging.

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