It’s an often-quoted statement that in the 21st century a billion lives will be lost to smoking related diseases...
And in Central London next month Vapemate is hosting the first UK public screening of ‘A Billion Lives’, an eye-opening documentary by director Aaron Biebert looking at smoking, the tobacco industry and the vaping revolution.
‘A Billion Lives’ claims the public is being lied to so that tobacco corporations' coffers stay full. And whether you believe in the themes raised by the film or not, at the very minimum it offers a huge insight into the motivations of the industry.
But what about these billion lives? The title comes from a quote by Sir Richard Peto, a leading British epidemiologist, who first reported his billion-lives calculation in an interview with the Independent newspaper back in 2012.
Each Year 30 Million People Take Up Smoking
Peto’s reasoning, simplified, goes like this: each year 30 million people take up smoking. More than half will die from tobacco-related illnesses. That’s more than a billion lives a century. But when it comes to the apparent harm of e-cigarettes and vaping, the documentary claims it’s in the governments’ interest to support the tobacco industry not the allegedly safer alternatives. And so begins what Biebert calls ‘the battle for a billion lives’, and gives rise to the movie’s tagline ‘a true story of government failure, big business and the vaping revolution.’
Biebert’s documentary starts out with a look at the tobacco industry and its history before moving on to e-cigarettes and vaping, and it’s supported by a weighty line-up from the world of tobacco issues including ‘Winston Man’ David Goerlitz, former president of the World Medical Association Dr. Delon Human, and former executive director at the World Health Organization Dr. Derek Yach.
Yet Biebert is Neither Smoker Nor Vaper
His interest stems from watching once-heavy smoker friends vape, and what he believes are unjust findings in the New England Journal of Medicine that vape smoke produces high levels of formaldehyde when coils are heated to the maximum. Biebert claims the researchers’ calculations are unreliable, part of a conspiracy by the industry, and that subsequent tests have shown no greater levels of such substances.
The essence of Biebert’s film is straightforward though: the industry has a financial interest to keep tobacco rather than vape flavours on the menu. And don’t forget ‘quit smoking’ patches either - there’s the potential for millions of dollars’ loss if people no longer use these products too.
Vapemate is hosting the London premiere on December 6th.