Netflix to cut back smoking scenes in its shows

Ben Arnold
David Harbour, on the tabs as Jim Hopper in Stranger Things (Credit: Netflix)

Netflix is to cut back on scenes featuring characters smoking in its original content.

The move has come after a study from a US anti-smoking group which has published a study into the instances of smoking on TV.

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The Truth Initiative says that '92% of TV shows across broadcast, cable and streaming that are most popular with young people feature tobacco prominently'.

It adds that this represents at 16 percent increase from last year, and is 'likely putting those young people at greater risk of becoming smokers'.

“Smoking on the small screen has gone from common to nearly unavoidable,” it went on to say.

The report found 866 instances of tobacco use on Netflix shows between 2016 and 2017, almost triple the amount from the previous year.

Among the worst culprits are prison comedy-drama Orange Is The New Black and Stranger Things, which saw 262 instances of smoking in season two compared to 182 in season one.

Netflix has taken notice of the findings, and has said that it will remove all smoking from content aimed at a young audience.

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However, Stranger Things, and David Harbour’s chain-smoking Jim Hopper, may get a pass.

“Going forward, all new projects that we commission with ratings of TV-14 or below for series or PG-13 or below for films, will be smoking and e-cigarette free - except for reasons of historical or factual accuracy,” it said in a statement.

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

It added: “While smoking in TV programmes has not been studied as extensively as tobacco imagery in movies, it is reasonable to conclude a similar harmful impact is possible.”

Opinions, of course, have varied on social media, but some are dead set against the move.