The Vape Store Blog

A Billion Lives – The War on Vaping

As we know in Australia, vaping has been under something of a legal attack, including the ban of the sale of electronic cigarettes in WA and increasingly stringent regulations being introduced in other states. It’s definitely under attack in the US where vaping has been banned in several jurisdictions following pressure and misinformation from the tobacco industry.

US filmmaker Aaron Biebert takes a look at the rise of e-cigs and vaping in his documentary, A Billion Lives, which recently had its first showing in Australia at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

His film asserts that we’re being lied to with governments banning electronic cigarettes while ignoring the science or being complicit with the tobacco industry in keeping people addicted to a harmful product. Biebert, who directed and narrated the film, contends that governments are spending money to spread misinformation about e-cigarettes, including claims that they are a gateway to smoking and overstating the risks of their use, while ignoring that they have proven to be a tool that has helped many people successfully give up smoking where other mainstream solutions have failed.
Filmmaker Aaron Biebert
Filmmaker Aaron Biebert

What makes this documentary all the more salient is that Beibert is not a vaper. He’s not even a former smoker. He simply uncovered a story that he thought was important to tell. Biebert said the drive to make the film came when he read that the United Nations estimates that a billion lives will be lost to smoking this century (hence the title).

“We have not done any sort of crowd-funding,” Biebert explained.

“Our movie, A Billion Lives, is funded by our studio, Attention Era Media. I’m not a vaper or a smoker and nobody in our team is a vaper or a smoker, so we actually come into this with some fresh eyes to the concept.”

In fact Biebert said he was one of those “ignorant people” that thought vapers looked like idiots until he discovered that there had been some “fraudulent studies” doing the rounds that suggested that vaping was worse than smoking. It was then that he began to wonder if “something fishy was going on”.

“These people were telling me that this [vaping] was saving their life,” he explained. “And here it was being demonised.”

In A Billion Lives, Beibert set out to talk to scientists, doctors and health leaders. However, he said it wasn’t always easy. While he expected resistance from the tobacco industry, what Biebert didn’t expect was pushback from the quit smoking industry. Many declined to be interviewed.

“We had a stated goal of remaining neutral during the process,” he said. “Health advocates, pharmaceutical companies, government leaders all said no,” Beibert told FilmInk.

“There was clearly something going on, so I pushed ahead until I got the former Executive Director at the World Health Organization and the former president of the World Medical Association to go on record. What they had to say was shocking.”

A Billion Lives had its world premiere in New Zealand in May of this year and according to Biebert a couple of days after the release the NZ Government announced it was going to reconsider its ban on “nicotine vapour technology”.

Beibert said he also had a private screening for members of US Congress and their staff in Washington DC. The movie has also been screened in Europe and most recently in Melbourne. In the meantime he said they were working on getting the funds together for a wider release for the US and Europe.

You can find out more about A Billion Lives through their website, Facebook page and YouTube Channel


Jacqui Munn

Jacqui Munn


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