Truth originally reached out to Turner regarding concerns about the depiction of smoking in Gears 5. Turner is partnered with the esports organization ELeague, which also happens to have the broadcasting rights to the Gears 5 esports tournament.
Rod Fergusson, the studio head at The Coalition, addressed the decision to not include depictions of smoking or tobacco in a statement to Variety:
“I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact of smoking,” Fergusson said. “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.”
Only a handful of characters in the Gears of War universe regularly smoked tobacco cigarettes or cigars. Specifically, characters like Michael Barrick and Alexandra Brand have been portrayed smoking cigars.
Despite the removal of tobacco Gears 5 is still rated “M” for mature. Gears 5 will still have the shooting, gore, and dismemberment the Gears of War franchise is known for. But even with the violence, Turner Sports Digital and Eleague sales strategy and revenue boss, Seth Ladetsky, told Variety that removing tobacco references “does have an impact” on young people.