The Coalition, the team behind the upcoming Gears of War instalment Gears 5, has announced they'll be removing all tobacco smoking references from the game. The decision comes after talks with anti-smoking organisation Truth Initiative.
As reported by Variety, non-profit organization Truth Initiative has approached Turner, the company that owns the ELeague esports division and has broadcast rights to Gears 5, who in turn contacted The Coalition.
The Coalition's head honcho Rod Fergusson said, "I've seen firsthand the devastating impact of smoking. It's always been important for me to not use smoking as a narrative device, which is why we made the conscious choice to avoid highlighting or glorifying smoking in 'Gears 5' and throughout the Gears of War Universe moving forward."
As was confirmed by an Xbox Games Studio, this decision was made solely by The Coalition, and without any meddling on Microsoft's behalf.
Head of Turner Sports Digital Seth Ladetsky said that the decision has been pondered over for a while. "This took a lot of time and a lot of good thinking", he said, adding, "It's the right image for ELeague - and the game itself - to project."
CEO of Truth Initiative Robin Koval said, "In the midst of the pervasive reemergence of glamorized smoking imagery in pop culture, we commend [The Coalition] for taking smoking out of 'Gears 5' and ELeague for featuring this tobacco-free game during this weekend’s competition."
Koval added that he hopes this move will encourage other game developers to follow suit and remove smoking references from their works.
One could argue that removing smoking from a game that centres around killing is a bit hypocritical, but it pays to know that tobacco companies had heavily relied on Hollywood movies to popularise smoking, to begin with.
Ironically, Some of the actors that made smoking so popular paid the ultimate price for their habits, so it's about time we stopped giving the tobacco industry free advertisements. And that's coming from a heavy smoker, mind you.