Netflix has announced that it will cut back depictions of smoking in its future shows. There will be no cigarette use in future projects, commissioned by them, which have a 14 or younger age rating. The show will also reduce on-screen smoking in future projects for all ages.

Why has Netflix decided to cut back on on-screen smoking?

The new policy comes on the back of a new report by anti-tobacco advocacy group, Truth Initiative. The report shows that there has been a surge in tobacco use in numerous high-profile series. One example to be spotlighted is Stranger Things, which has just launched its third season.

The results from the report showed that Netflix shows depicted more on-screen smoking than other broadcasters. Truth Initiative suggests that 28 million young people have been exposed to on-screen smoking, just from the most popular shows.

The figures are rising and the report focuses on key shows like House of Cards, Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black. The figures showed that the most recent series of each show contains more tobacco use than in previous years.

Netflix admitted that they “recognize that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people.” The streaming giant did also comment that “Netflix supports artistic expression,”.

The new Netflix policy therefore states that the depiction of smoking will only be shown if “it’s essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it’s character-defining (historically or culturally important).”

Chris Green, Totally Wicked smoking cessation lead said,

“I’m pleased to see Netflix taking a pro-active stance to protect against the glamorisation and normalisation of smoking on screen. Over the years we’ve seen many on-screen icons make smoking look cool and appealing. The fact this trend has reappeared in recent times is concerning, however it’s good to see Netflix have taken the criticism on board and agreed to make sensible changes going forward”.

So, it seems like there will be a reduction in cigarette use on Netflix but will e-cigarettes also be cut back?

Will Netflix replace on-screen smoking with on-screen vaping?

Netflix will also include e-cigarettes in its new policy and cover them under the same bracket as cigarettes. This may seem fair for the 14 or younger age category, but is it reasonable for projects aimed at adults?

Last month, Love Island announced that neither smoking or vaping will be allowed in the villa. We therefore asked our Totally Wicked followers for their thoughts about whether they think vaping should be allowed on-screen. 92% of respondents voted that “It should be allowed”.

What do you think when it comes to fictional Netflix shows? Vaping is rarely seen on-screen and would not be particularly relevant for many shows. However, could e-cigs be used to replace the character’s habits in relevant circumstances? Let us know if you think there’s a place for vaping on-screen in the comments below.

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