“Stranger Things 3” has just launched on Netflix and the series is already sparked a bit of controversy. No, there’s nothing wrong with the series, per se, as it’s clear that the Netflix hit is sticking to its tried and true formula of our favorite ‘80s kids (now teens) fighting some new threat in their tiny Indiana town. But also returning to Season 3 is cigarette smoking, and according to one report, the nostalgic TV series is the worst tobacco offender around.
Variety is reporting that the Truth Initiative, an anti-smoking group, has labeled “Stranger Things” as the series with the most significant number of smoking depictions out of any series. In fact, even though Season 1 was that year’s biggest offender with 182 representations, the stat increased 44% in Season 2, with 262 depictions of smoking. And while stats for Season 3 aren’t available, anecdotally, it seems as if David Harbour’s character, Hopper, isn’t slowing down his cigarette smoking at all.
This new report has led Netflix to release a statement about the trend and admit that changes need to be made. According to the streaming service, any series that is rated TV-14 and below will eliminate smoking completely except for “reasons of historical or factual accuracy.” Also, upcoming projects with higher ratings will also reduce the use of cigarettes or e-cigarettes “unless it’s essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it’s character-defining (historically or culturally important).”
“Netflix strongly supports artistic expression,” a spokesperson for Netflix said. “We also recognize that smoking is harmful, and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people.”
“Content has become the new tobacco commercial,” said Robin Koval, CEO/president of Truth Initiative. “We’re seeing a pervasive re-emergence 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.”
So, even though “Stranger Things 3” is poised to be the most successful season yet, it appears that change is coming to Hawkins, Indiana. Particularly, with Chief Hopper, who might want to invest in some nicotine patches for his next adventure.