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Netflix to stub out most smoking, tobacco use in future original series

But Stranger Things may not be affected due to its 1980s setting.

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Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read
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Cary Elwes, as new Stranger Things character Mayor Kline, puffs on a cigar.

Netflix

Police Chief Jim Hopper smokes up a storm in Stranger Things season 3, and he's not the only character who lights up. All that puffing is pretty factually accurate to 1985, the year the Netflix hit series is set. But expect to see less smoking on the streaming network, which says it plans to cut down on depictions of smoking in upcoming productions.

"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," Netflix said in a statement obtained by CNET sister site ComicBook.com.

The statement also said that in shows aimed at older viewers, "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 statement came after anti-smoking group Truth Initiative issued a report this week indicating that more than 90 percent of TV shows most popular with young people prominently feature tobacco, a 16 percent increase since the group's last report.

"Smoking on the small screen has gone from common to nearly unavoidable," the report says. 

Netflix shows lead the pack, and the references are increasing. The report found 866 instances of tobacco in Netflix shows from 2016-17, nearly triple the number found from 2015-16. The group also found that season 2 of Stranger Things had 262 instances of smoking, compared with 182 in its first season. It's unclear if the show's smoking would be affected, however, because it's indeed historically accurate to depict smoking in the 1980s, the decade Stranger Things takes place.

Fans naturally had opinions. "Smoking in an '80s setting is ACCURATE," one Twitter user wrote. "The Student Union of my college didn't ban smoking in the FOOD COURT until 1992." Wrote another: "God forbid we show things how they actually were. People smoked in the '80s."

Stranger Things drops its third season on Netflix July 4.

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