Is “Stranger Things” Effecting Your Child’s Health?

What if I told you Stranger Things has more in common with 13 Reasons Why then you think? Would you ban it from your house? It turns out the popular show could be influencing your child’s health and maybe not in the way you think. Is Stranger Things effecting YOUR child’s health?

A study by the group Truth Initiative found that depictions of tobacco use in youth-related cable and streaming imagery was up 379% in the last year – and the biggest culprit was Stranger Things. Actually Stranger Things was the biggest offender for the past 2 years with 100% of episodes reviewed by researchers including tobacco. In a time when we are hitting e-cigarettes and JUUL hard, maybe we need to be thinking about the entertainment influence on our kids as well.

Is stranger things effecting your child's health

Which Network has the highest Tobacco Imagery?

Netflix topped the list of offenders with nearly double the tobacco instances compared with the year before. The company states that they support artistic freedom in their productions but they are responding to the growing problem.

Netflix offered the statement that, “Going forward, all new projects with ratings of TV-14 or below for series or PG-13 or below for films, will be smoking and e-cigarette free – except for reasons of historical or factual accuracy.” That’s a good start but they are not alone.

Tobacco imagery on cable programming also increased 150% with the biggest offenders beingOnce Upon a Time, American Horror Story, and Modern Family. Of the tobacco products showcased, 73% of depictions were from cigarettes and e-cigarettes accounted for less than 1% of depictions.

How Does Imagery Effect Teens and Tobacco Use Rates?

In a time when we have raised cigarette prices and limited tobacco marketing, this seems to be a growing access point for tobacco. The 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that the number of middle and high school students currently using e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2017 to 2018 (1.5 million to 3.6 million). These new statistics showed a reversal in the decline in youth tobacco products use seen in the previous few years.

Is stranger things effecting your child's health

Youth that use e-cigarettes are also more likely to transition to cigarettes and proceed on to nicotine addiction. About 40% of youth who used tobacco products reported using 2 products. And the increased glorification of cigarettes on streaming services only contributes to the next step being cigarettes. Oh, tobacco, it just keeps coming.

I know JUUL has been a big topic at my daughter’s school, my step-son’s school, and my nephew’s school in the past year with the growth of popularity for these products. I would have said that this form alone is how we will see tobacco use in the next generation. These statistics have me questioning that thought, though. Big tobacco is no dummy.

Simple Solution: How much time does your child spend streaming shows? With tobacco images up 379% in the past year, what messages are coming through clear? Cigarettes are still here and your child is seeing them more than you would think.

If you would like more information, check out:

Truth Initiative at

2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey at

For more Blog Posts on Teens:



Teens and Drugs:

Is Stranger Things Effecting Your Child's Health


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