Netflix to Reduce Depictions of Smoking After Stranger Things Complaint
"We recognize that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people," Netflix said
Smoking in Stranger Things has led Netflix to curb cigarette use from future projects.
Anti-smoking group Truth Initiative found there were 262 instances of cigarette smoking in season 2 alone, which is a 44 percent increase from the first season, according to Variety.
“Netflix strongly supports artistic expression,” a spokesperson for the streaming service told Variety. “We also recognize that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people.”
Netflix confirmed to Variety that tobacco use will factor into ratings information beginning later this year, meaning any cigarette or e-cigarette smoking will have to be excluded in order to meet TV-14 rating for television and PG-13 rating for movies. The only exception to that rule is if the tobacco use is central to “reasons of historical or factual accuracy,” the outlet reports.
A spokesperson for Netflix did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Other shows highlighted for tobacco use in the Truth Initiative’s report were ABC’s Modern Family and Amazon’s Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, according to Variety.
“Content has become the new tobacco commercial,” said Truth Initiative President Robin Koval.
“We’re seeing a pervasive reemergence of smoking imagery across screens that is glamorizing and re-normalizing a deadly addiction and putting young people squarely in the crosshairs of the tobacco industry.”
Even movies seeking an R-rating or television programming geared for adults will likely feature less tobacco use as well, unless it’s ”essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it’s character-defining (historically or culturally important),” Variety reports.
A spokesperson for Truth Initiative did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.