In a significant move to address concerns about the pervasive depiction of smoking in its original content, Netflix has strict rule for smoking sceneson its shows. This decision comes in response to criticism and a report from the public health nonprofit group Truth Initiative, highlighting the alarming prevalence of smoking scenes, particularly in hit series like Stranger Things. As the streaming giant takes a proactive stance to mitigate the potential influence on viewers, this policy marks a notable step towards balancing artistic expression with public health considerations.
In a bid to address mounting concerns over the pervasive depiction of smoking in some of its most popular series, Netflix has announced a stringent new policy restricting the inclusion of smoking and e-cigarette use in its original content.
The streaming platform's decision comes on the heels of criticism and a report from public health nonprofit group Truth Initiative, which identified Netflix's hit series, Stranger Things, as one of the worst offenders in terms of featuring smoking scenes. The report revealed that tobacco use was present in 100 percent of episodes in the show's second season.
Netflix responded proactively to the concerns raised by viewers who reported feeling tempted to smoke after watching their favorite characters light up on screen. In the wake of the report's findings, the streaming giant unveiled a comprehensive policy applicable to all new shows it commissions.
According to the new guidelines, any show with ratings of TV-14 or below and films rated PG-13 or below commissioned by Netflix will exclude smoking and e-cigarette use, except when essential for historical or factual accuracy. Additionally, higher-rated projects will only feature smoking if it is integral to the creative vision of the artist or character-defining from a historical or cultural perspective.
A spokesperson for Netflix emphasized the platform's commitment to artistic expression while acknowledging the potential harm of positively portraying smoking on screen. The spokesperson stated:
Netflix strongly supports artistic expression. We also recognize that smoking is harmful and, when portrayed positively on screen, can adversely influence young people.- Netflix
The move reflects a growing awareness within the entertainment industry about the impact of on-screen smoking on viewers, especially younger audiences. Truth Initiative's report highlighted a concerning trend, revealing that since 2018, tobacco depiction on television has more than doubled. Despite existing limitations on tobacco advertising, an estimated 28 million young people witnessed tobacco incidents on their screens, with over 200 such incidents occurring in programs rated TV-Y7 and TV-PG.
Netflix's commitment to curbing on-screen smoking reflects a growing awareness within the entertainment industry of the impact such scenes can have on viewers, particularly younger audiences. By setting stringent guidelines for its original content, Netflix aims to strike a balance between creative expression and responsible content creation.
This move underscores the streaming platform's recognition of the potential harm associated with positive portrayals of smoking on screen and aligns with broader industry efforts to promote healthier viewing experiences. As Netflix continues to evolve its content policies, the entertainment landscape may witness a positive shift towards more mindful storytelling.