Awards season is well under way, kicking off with the 80th Golden Globe Awards on January 10, 2023 and Oscar nominations released January 24, 2023. Among the 2023 winners and nominees we continue to see onscreen tobacco depictions. For example, Elvis includes many depictions of cigars and cigarettes and was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and won Austin Butler a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture. White Lotus (Season 2), which won the Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or TV film, included depictions of cigarette smoking and vaping. Fleishman is in Trouble was nominated in the same category at the Golden Globes and included extensive cigarette smoking. The Banshees of Inisherin received numerous Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay and took home the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy Motion Picture. The film included extensive cigarette smoking.
Oscar nominations can boost a film’s total income by $19 million (USD), meaning that award-nominated films with tobacco get more attention. Seeing tobacco in award-winning content is nothing new. More than three quarters (78%; 14/18) of live-action, scripted, feature-length films nominated for the 2022 Oscars in the major categories depicted tobacco use. A number of films with tobacco won awards at the Oscars, Golden Globes and Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG). For example, The Power of the Dog won the 2022 Golden Globe for Best Drama and Oscar for Best Director and included extensive cigarette smoking with star Benedict Cumberbatch reporting that he gave himself nicotine poisoning multiple times during filming. CODA, King Richard, and West Side Story also included tobacco depictions and took home awards at the Golden Globes, Oscars, and SAG awards.
While members of the entertainment industry may argue that much of the content featuring tobacco incidents in award-winning films and shows from 2022 and 2023 was adult-rated, we know that the shifting of the media landscape to streaming and other contexts means adult ratings are becoming increasingly less effective in protecting youth from tobacco in media. We need to continue to educate the entertainment industry about the harms of including tobacco in media and put pressure on content creators to create and implement clear anti-tobacco policies to keep kids safe. You can spread the word about the harms of tobacco in media on your social channels using Truth Initiative’s 2023 Golden Globes social toolkit available here. Be on the lookout on our website for more materials from Truth Initiative and UCSF to use in planning your events leading up to this year’s 95th Academy Awards on March 13, 2023.