Netflix to Reduce On-Screen Smoking
Netflix has pledged to reduce the number of occasions where actors use tobacco products in its original programmes. The move comes after a study showed that smoking on the streaming service’s programmes had contributed to a rise in on-screen smoking more widely.
According to the report by Truth Initiative, tobacco imagery was increasing on small screens and depictions were much more common on streaming services than on cable television.
- Sci-fi horror “Stranger Things” had 182 instances of smoking in its first season and 262 in the second
- Prison drama “Orange Is The New Black” had 45 tobacco depictions in its 2015-16 season and 233 in the following season
- Across programmes aimed at young people, there were 42 “tobacco depictions” in US programmes with youth ratings during 2015-16. However, that figure rose 379% to 201 instances
Netflix stated, all its new programmes, regardless of their content ratings, would not depict smoking “unless it’s essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it’s character-defining – historically or culturally important.”
Netflix strongly supports artistic expression. We also recognise that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people,” stated Netflix, as per The Guardian.
Another streaming service, Amazon Prime Video’s award-winning comedy “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel” portrays characters smoking throughout its two seasons. Hulu’s “Gap Year” features a character who frequently smokes.
The Truth Initiative report recommended that all producers of video content, regardless of which streaming service, should eliminate tobacco depictions in its future programmes aimed at young people.
Content has become the new tobacco commercial. We’re seeing a pervasive reemergence of smoking imagery across screens that is glamorising and re-normalising a deadly addiction and putting young people squarely in the crosshairs of the tobacco industry,” said Robin Koval, the CEO of Truth Initiative, as per The Guardian.
For further reading
News story: While you were streaming: Smoking on demand
Download the full report here (PDF)