Netflix to cut back on smoking scenes after backlash from anti-tobacco group

Netflix to cut back on smoking scenes after backlash from anti-tobacco group

While teenagers used to chain smoke like there was no tomorrow, as time goes on, we've become more aware of the health risks that come from cigarettes. Today, smoking is prohibited in most buildings. Smoking on a plane? Forget about it. Even Disney has banned smoking in all their parks!

Times have changed and so has society's health consciousness.

That's why Truth Initiative, an anti-tobacco group, called out Netflix in a detailed report and tweet. And Netflix didn't back down. As a result of the kerfuffle, the streaming service has agreed to cut back on depicting smoking on their platform. Truth Initiative tweeted yesterday that almost all shows popular among young people contain tobacco use.

Their in-depth report says that this is a danger because young people exposed to tobacco on-screen are twice as likely to take up smoking than those who aren't. The report reads:

"Our prior analysis found that Netflix programs depicted more smoking imagery than broadcast shows. In 2019, Truth Initiative researchers re-analyzed tobacco content in the same episodic programming most popular with young people between 15 and 24 years old and found that Netflix once again topped the list with nearly triple the number of tobacco instances (866) compared with the prior year (299)."

Credit: Stranger Things

Stranger Things is the worst Netflix offender, as 100 percent of their shows include some kind of tobacco use or products. But other shows, like Orange Is The New Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, are up there too.

So, Netflix has decided to make a change. As a result of the report, anything on the streaming platform rated at or below TV-14 (for shows) and PG-13 (for films) will exclude smoking and e-cigarettes. And new, high-rating projects won't have any unless it is vital to the artist's vision.

Credit: Truth Initiative

On top of all that, Netflix will include smoking information in its ratings later this year. Netflix told Variety:

"Netflix strongly supports artistic expression. We also recognize that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people."

But there is one exception to Netflix's new rules: They're allowing historically and factually accurate smoking. And some people on Twitter think this won't change much on the platform, as they consider most of what Netflix puts out to be historically reasonable.

But Truth Initiative isn't just singling out Netflix. It's calling all streaming services and broadcasting networks to implement similar changes. Here's to a tobacco-free future!