On July 2, the Truth Initiative published a report claiming that depictions of smoking in television shows have become ‘nearly unavoidable.’ The organization called out a number of popular shows that it says are increasingly showing characters smoking and vaping, particularly Netflix originals like Stranger Things. In response, the streaming company has vowed to reduce these depictions in some content.
Truth Initiative claims that Netflix programs had more smoking depictions than any broadcast show, something the organization once again analyzed for 2019. According to the latest analysis, which looked at the same Netflix shows as before (ones popular with younger age groups), the number of depictions of smoking nearly tripled.
The organization says that in its 2018 study, it found 299 depictions of smoking in episodic Netflix programming popular with viewers aged 15 through 24. In its 2019 analysis of the same shows, the organization found 866 depictions of tobacco use.
A similar increase was found in broadcast and cable shows, as well, with a nearly 2.5 times increase in tobacco imagery compared to 2018. This rise has amplified in recent years, at least according to the organization, which says that in the 2015 to 2016 television season, 79-percent of shows contained tobacco imagery. In comparison, 92-percent of shows in the 2016-2017 season had these depictions.
A number of Netflix shows were looked at, including Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, and Fuller House. Cable shows included The Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead, and Modern Family.
In response to the report, Netflix told Variety that its future original shows rated TV-14 and under and movies rated PG-13 and below will no longer show vaping or smoking. There will be an exception, however, for cases where it is necessary for historical or factual accuracy.