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.