Netflix criticised by anti-smoking group

The Truth Initiative have conducted a study into the streaming service's original programming

Netflix has been criticised by an anti-smoking group for the amount of smoking scenes in its original programming.

The Truth Initiative is a US-based non-profit organisation who say they are “dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past”. Their website claims they have “helped bring teen cigarette use down from 23 percent in 2000 to less than six percent in 2018.”

The group have conducted a study into Netflix’s original series and found that it has the highest instances of characters smoking on TV. They looked at the 14 most popular shows for viewers in the age bracket of 15 and 24, seven of those being Netflix shows and the other seven from broadcast television between 2015 and 2016.


Netflix anti-smoking
Stranger Things’ Billy Hargrove (played by Dacre Montgomery)

Netflix had 319 instances of scenes featuring any implied use of tobacco, which was more than twice that found on broadcast TV. Stranger Things had the most “smoking incidents” with 182. The Walking Dead, which is shown on AMC, came in second on the list with 94 examples.

Four more Netflix series appeared in the rankings before the list reached another broadcast TV show, including Orange Is The New Black (45), House Of Cards (41), Fuller House (22), and Making A Murderer (20).

The Truth Initiative president and CEO Robin Koval said in a statement that the rise of on-demand television has seen “a pervasive re-emergence of smoking across screens that is glamorising and renormalising a deadly habit to millions of impressionable young people.” Netflix and other streaming services do not have to follow the same content restrictions as broadcast and cable networks.

A spokesperson for Netflix toldĀ Variety the service was “interested to find out more about the study” and that while they were happy “streaming entertainment is more popular than ever, we’re glad smoking is not.”

Meanwhile, Barack and Michelle Obama are reportedly in talks with Netflix about producing a series of high-profile shows.


Although the format of the shows produced by the Obamas is yet to be revealed, it is not believed that they will use the platform to launch stinging attacks on political opponents including Donald Trump.