America’s largest non-profit health organisation, Truth Initiative, has named-and-shamed Netflix amongst its list of offenders that frequently depict smoking and vaping in is programming.
The organisation’s report claims that instances of tobacco cropping up in popular shows with the kids today has quadrupled over the past year, and it highlighted the second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things as the worst of them all.
“Everybody was watching, but no one was paying attention, [and] we’ve experienced a pervasive re-emergence of smoking imagery that is glamorising and renormalising a deadly habit to millions of impressionable young people. It has to stop,” says the report, which documented an increase in on-screen smoking from 182 instances in the first season to 262 in the second.
In response to Truth Initiative’s wishes to sanitise shows, Netflix has said that any future original shows it makes that fall into the category of TV-14 or under, and films PG-13 or below, won’t feature smoking or e-cigarettes unless it’s for “reasons of historical or factual accuracy.”
A spokesperson for the company told Variety that “Netflix strongly supports artistic expression. We also recognise that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people.”
Other Netflix shows that saw an increase in smoking include Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, House of Cards, Fuller House, and Making a Murderer. So you can break out the fags when you’re in jail, escaped an underground cult, in a presidential race, running a household full of belligerent children, or after your son’s been whisked off to the Upside Down – just as long as it’s off-screen or the age rating has been jacked up.
Demands to slap an R-rating on films depicting smoking have been shut down by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), because it’s absolutely ridiculous.
“While the [ratings] system strongly weighs the presence of any tobacco-related imagery, it is not designed to impose societal change or censor filmmakers,” said MPAA chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin last year.