Stranger Things: ‘Harmful’ cigarette use prompts Netflix to clamp down on smoking scenes

David Harbour's Chief Hopper has been regularly glimpsed lighting up

Adam White
Thursday 04 July 2019 09:42 BST
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Stranger Things is one of the worst offenders when it comes to depictions of smoking on Netflix original series, a study has found, leading the streaming service to pledge to cut down on the use of tobacco in their programming.

After the nonprofit tobacco control organisation The Truth Initiative declared that Netflix was responsible for the far majority of tobacco depictions on US television, the streaming service has agreed in a statement that “smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people”.

Stranger Things ranked as the second worst offender on Netflix having regularly depicted tobacco products, and specifically as a means to symbolise a kind of gruff coolness. Both David Harbour’s Chief Jim Hopper and Dacre Montgomery’s violent bad boy Billy Hargrove have been seen smoking cigarettes over the course of the show.

Netflix has now pledged to no longer feature smoking or e-cigarettes in programming or original films aimed at under-14s “except for reasons of historical or factual accuracy”. For programming and original films aimed at adults, Netflix has pledged to remove 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)”.

According to the study, there were 866 “tobacco depictions” in Netflix programming between 2016 and 2017, which can translate into everything from characters literally smoking to the presence of a pack of cigarettes in a shot. Only Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had a worse track record than Stranger Things, due to a scene depicting a wall of cigarette products.

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