You might see less of this on TV soon
One of the country’s biggest entertainment platforms has announced it’ll snuff out depictions of smoking and vaping from much of its new programming, after an anti-tobacco group pointed out the amount of lighting up in the retro drama “Stranger Things.”
For years, health care professionals and anti-smoking advocates have pushed back on the depiction of tobacco use in movies, TV, advertising and video games, concerned that young people will be influenced and become addicted.
Dr. Michael S. Vercillo, a thoracic surgeon with Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., praises the move, saying “smoking on screen does not enhance the entertainment value of the film or episode, so this is a simple step towards a healthier society.”
“Reducing the amount of exposure our youth have to smoking may contribute to reducing the amount of people who start smoking,” Dr. Vercillo says. “Starting early in life will set them up to smoke longer and can lead to serious health problems, particularly lung cancer. Many of my patients have a smoking history for many years, and most of them started as teenagers.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that while smoking in the U.S. has dropped in the past decades, about 38 million Americans still smoke. Smoking is the number one risk factor that makes it more likely you’ll get lung cancer, and it’s linked to as many as 90% of lung cancer deaths.
“As a lung cancer surgeon, I don’t advise anyone to smoke,” Dr. Vercillo says. “But while adults can make their own life decisions, our youth should be more protected while they are particularly impressionable.”
A U.S. Surgeon General report from 2014 stated that “an R-rating for movies with smoking would avert one million tobacco deaths among today’s children and adolescents,” a finding Dr. Vercillo calls “staggering” and a “likely reason enough for Netflix and others to pursue this.”
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About the Author
Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.