PTC Calls Out Warner Bros. Discovery for Promoting Smoking in Violation of its Own Policy

Written by PTC | Published July 10, 2023

LOS ANGELES (July 10, 2023) – The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) is calling on Warner Bros. Discovery to stop ignoring its policy that aims to reduce or eliminate smoking and tobacco use in its shows and films, as it has done with youth-targeted program, The Idol. The Idol frequently shows the main character, Jocelyn, smoking cigarettes.

“Warner Bros. Discovery is serving glamorous portrayals of smoking to youth audiences in The Idol in violation of its own policy that states tobacco depictions should be reduced or eliminated. This is outrageous and the company must do better for the sake of youth who are inevitably watching and absorbing these harmful messages,” said Melissa Henson, vice president of the Parents Television and Media Council.

“The entertainment industry at large is glamorizing tobacco use in popular TV shows and films,” Henson said, pointing to an article in The Guardian revealing popular TV shows and films like HBO’s And Just Like That, The Idol, Netflix’s Russian Doll, Stranger Things, The Queen’s Gambit, The Umbrella Academy, along with 28 (out of 39) Academy Award nominated films in 2023 that depict smoking or tobacco use. The Guardian also pointed out that in 2020, cigarette sales rose in the U.S. for the first time in 20 years.

“As recent as 2019, Netflix publicly recognized smoking’s harms and potential impact on young viewers and pledged to reduce smoking portrayals. So why is it continuing to allow smoking to be glamorized in its shows?” Henson said.

“The harms of smoking have not changed. The entertainment industry must do its part to lead people away from harm and therefore must quit its addiction to tobacco portrayals.”

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