Netflix pledges to cut back on smoking scenes from its content

Netflix has vowed to curtail smoking scenes in its original content after a study highlighted the rising number of instances of actors puffing cigarettes on screen. 

The pledge comes days after the premiere of "Strangers Things" season three, which has received criticism from some quarters for showing one of its protagonist, Jim Hopper (David Harbour), smoking in most of his scenes.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for the streaming giant said the company will regulate smoking related scenes in its content which has been rated either TV-14 or PG-13.

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

"For new projects with higher ratings, there'll be no smoking or e-cigarettes unless it's essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it's character-defining (historically or culturally important)," the representative said.

Recently, a report, commissioned by anti-tobacco watchdog group The Truth Initiative, contended that young people are likely to start smoking if they see their favourite characters doing it on TV.

"In both the previous and current analysis, Netflix programs continued to display much more tobacco than broadcast or cable. For both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, episodic programming on Netflix had a greater total number of tobacco depictions than programs aired on broadcast or cable TV, with 'Stranger Things' continuing to show the most tobacco overall. Researchers found that 100 per cent of 'Stranger Things' episodes coded included tobacco," it said.

The report further highlighted that there was an increase of 190 per cent in the number of smoking scenes that featured in Netflix's content.