Netflix Eliminates E-cigarette Depictions from Streaming Content
Netflix stated it will eliminate all e-cigarette representations from future streaming content targeted to TV-14 or below for series and PG-13 or below for films. CNN reported the move in response to a Truth Initiative study showing how Netflix depicts smoking more than broadcast TV.
Overall, 92% of cable/streaming shows showed cigarette/e-cigarette use. Netflix had “nearly triple the number of tobacco instances (866) compared to the prior year (299).” The multi-year study showed Stranger Things alone had “262 tobacco depictions in its second season, up from 182 in the first season.” This is significant because the Surgeon General warns that high levels of exposure to such visuals doubles the risk of smoking initiation. Considering 61% of young adults report online streaming channels as their primary means of program viewing, Netflix’s move away from e-cigarette representations could significantly impact this generation’s vaping epidemic.
Netflix will also limit cigarette depictions to adult usage. According to the CNN report, Netflix will only feature adult portrayals if “it’s essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it’s character-defining (historically or culturally important).”
The study did not specify how many of these depictions were related to the Juul vape device — which recently had a meteoric rise in use and captured over 70% of the e-cigarette market in the last two years. Juul has been accused of designing products and ads that appeal to youth and placing these ads in channels most populated by young adults and teens.