Netflix vows to clamp down on smoking scenes in original programmes

Netflix has vowed to cut down on depictions of cigarette use in its original programmes - meaning iconic smoking scenes are soon to be stubbed out.

The commitment comes after a study showed the streaming service has contributed to a rise in on-screen smoking.

A report said Netflix shows Stranger Things and Orange Is The New Black were among the worst offenders for showing characters lighting up.

In response to the study, from US-based anti-smoking group Truth Initiative, Netflix promised to exclude smoking in original shows aimed at young people, except for "reasons of historical or factual accuracy".

It also said all of its new programmes, regardless of their content ratings, will not depict smoking "unless it's essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it's character-defining (historically or culturally important)".

Netflix said: "Netflix strongly supports artistic expression. We also recognise that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people."

The mayor from Stranger Things is one of the programme's many smokers. Credit: Stranger Things/Netflix

The Truth Initiative study analysed TV shows for instances of smoking and found "smoking on the small screen has gone from common to nearly unavoidable".

It added: "While smoking in TV programmes has not been studied as extensively as tobacco imagery in movies, it is reasonable to conclude a similar harmful impact is possible."

Netflix's Stranger Things season one had 182 instances of smoking, the study said, while its second season had 262.

House Of Cards saw a leap from 41 to 54 from one season to the next, while prison drama Orange Is The New Black had 45 tobacco depictions in its 2015/16 season rising to 233 in its 2016/17 season, according to the study.

However, the Truth Initiative found Netflix was not the only streaming service to show smoking.

Amazon Prime Video's award-winning comedy The Marvelous Mrs Maisel portrays characters smoking throughout its two seasons while Hulu's Gap Year features a character who frequently uses cigarettes.

The iconic movie characters who made smoking 'cool'

The recent study on smoking in TV programmes echoes what previous studies have found about movies portraying smoking in a positive light.

The negative effects of tobacco smoking have been known for many years but movie directors have been making it appear 'cool' in their movies for decades.

Here are some of the most iconic smoking movie characters:

Tony Montana - Scarface - 1983

Al Pacino's Scarface character Tony Montana had a cigar in between his teeth for much of the movie. Credit: Scarface/Universal Pictures

Just as he does in real life, Al Pacino's character Tony Montana, from the 1983 movie Scarface, loved to smoke cigars.

For many, Tony Montana is the iconic movie gangster that people love to copy.

He goes from being a small time Cuban criminal to become a kingpin running Miami's drug trade - all the while with a cigar in his mouth.

Montana is likely to have been the inspiration for countless people arriving at parties hoping to appear cool with a big Cuban cigar.

Danny Zuko - Grease - 1978

John Travolta's Danny Zuko is one the entertainment industry's most iconic smokers. Credit: Grease/Paramount Pictures

Heartthrob Danny Zuko was the dream man for many teenage girls in the 70s and 80s, thanks to his singing, dancing, and sense of style.

The male protagonist from 1978 movie Grease - the most successful musical of all time - couldn't help but look cool and that didn't change when he was smoking, which was often.

John Travolta's fame grew exponentially after playing the character.

Holly Golightly - Breakfast at Tiffany's - 1961

Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's smoked using a stylish cigarette holder. Credit: Breakfast at Tiffany's/Paramount Pictures

Audrey Hepburn became one of the world's most iconic fashion and film stars after appearing in Breakfast at Tiffany's as Holly Golightly.

The movie centres around Golightly's aim to marry a man who moves into her apartment block.

The pursuit of love involves her looking beautiful and elegantly smoking through a cigarette holder.

It's likely Hepburn's smoking in this movie did wonders for the tobacco industry as young people aimed to emulate her.

The Man With No Name - The Good The Bad and The Ugly - 1966

Clint Eastwood appeared as the Man With No Name in three spaghetti westerns. Credit: The Good The Bad and The Ugly/Produzioni Europee Associati

Among the most iconic movie characters to light up on screen is the Man With No Name, in the trilogy of classic spaghetti westerns directed by Sergio Leone.

Clint Eastwood, who played the character, got his first big break as an actor when he appeared in the movies A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).

An omnipresent feature of the Man With No Name was stern face with a cigar hanging out of it.