Between the years 2010-2016, the depiction of tobacco increased by 72% according to a report by Centers for Disease Control and Protection. It increased by 90% in R rated movies and by 43% in PG-13 films.
From year 2002-2018, almost half of the top grossing movies in US were rated PG-13 and every 6 out of 10 of these showed smoking or tobacco use.
These reports strongly suggests that smoking in youth grows due to depictions in films. The tobacco companies use films instead of spending millions on advertisement. The current trend is to put tobacco imagery into movies, TV, and other media to promote tobacco use and glamorize its addiction.
These films may be seen by children and as we know children imitate what they see. They are impressionable. Smoking in the movies accounts for 37% of all smoking initiation. It was found that elimination of tobacco use in movies rated appropriate for children could have a significant effect in preventing youth from becoming tobacco users.
After the recent release of season 3 of Netflix series Stranger Things, Netflix has decided to cut down on smoking after it lead to tobacco use. Researchers found that 100% of Stranger Things episodes coded included tobacco – which is concerning for Truth Initiative since it is a series aimed at a younger audience.
Following the release of the study, Netflix has promised to cut back on the depictions of cigarette and e-cigarette smoking going forward and will tinker their ratings system to reflect tobacco usage.