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Friday
Oct072016

A Billion Lives, eight UK screenings, 52 tickets reserved

As readers know I've taken more than a passing interest in the pro-vaping documentary A Billion Lives.

It's not because I support or endorse the movie. Five months since its premiere in New Zealand I still haven't seen it. I have however seen the trailers and that was enough to set alarm bells ringing.

Pejorative title aside, most of what I've seen and read suggests the film is happy to recycle some of the more dubious anti-smoking propaganda, notably the claim that a billion lives will be lost to smoking this century and the even more outrageous allegation that 650,000 children die of 'passive' smoking every year.

Nevertheless projects like this fascinate me and I admire director Aaron Biebert's attempts to bring his film to market. I'm curious too to see how it will end.

I'm also bemused by the lack of promotion the film has received from leading vaping advocates in the UK, several of whom are featured in the film.

I'm guessing that the UK's much-vaunted pro-vaping public health professionals are uncomfortable with what I understand is the film's hard-hitting attack on both the pharmaceutical and public health industries.

The real puzzle though is the lukewarm attitude of Britain's supposedly 'active' vaping community. Privately I've heard a number of reasons for this, but nothing excuses the overwhelming indolence and apathy.

Their muted response is in stark contrast to Biebert's tireless efforts to promote his film and if there's one thing I can't stand it's armchair activists.

The fact is it couldn't be easier to register to host a screening at your local Odeon and it's bizarre that so few vaping advocates have risen to the challenge.

Via Demand.film you can register to host a screening at almost any Odeon cinema near you. As soon as a date is agreed the details are posted online.

After that the host's sole role is to publicise the screening – among friends, within the vaping community etc. When a minimum number of tickets are reserved (60-70 seems to be the average) the screening can go ahead on the relevant date.

Selflessly (!) I've suggested this is a great opportunity for the vaping community - including the smaller e-cigarette manufacturers and their representative bodies - to promote vaping to the wider world.

So here's an update.

There are currently just eight proposed screenings of A Billion Lives in the UK, one in Scotland, seven in England including one in south east London. As of this morning, the list (including the number of tickets reserved) is as follows:

Odeon Manchester Printworks
Wednesday October 26, 6:00pm
7 tickets reserved, target 67
Deadline 9 days

Odeon Preston
Wednesday October 26, 8:30pm
3 tickets reserved, target 64
Deadline 9 days

Odeon Glasgow Braehead
Wednesday October 26, 8:30pm
12 tickets reserved, target 67
Deadline 9 days

Odeon Tamworth
Tuesday November 1, 6.00pm
4 tickets reserved, target 61
Deadline 16 days

Odeon Worcester
Tuesday November 1, 6.00pm
0 tickets reserved, target 61
Deadline 16 days

Odeon Lincoln Wharf
Wednesday November 16, 6.00pm
17 tickets reserved, target 61
Deadline 16 days

Odeon Greenwich
Wednesday November 16, 6.00pm
9 tickets reserved, target 61
Deadline 30 days

Odeon Hatfield
Wednesday November 16, 6.00pm
0 tickets reserved, target 61
Deadline 30 days

So that's eight screenings for which a total of 52 tickets have been reserved at an average of 6.5 tickets per screening.

If vaping advocates think I'm being unhelpful, unkind even, for pointing this out, I'm not just sitting on my backside pontificating.

Four weeks ago I registered to host a screening of A Billion Lives. Having said how easy it is to register - and it is - I'm still waiting for confirmation of my preferred date and venue.

When the distributor acknowledged my interest and contacted me I suggested the Odeon Leicester Square, home of countless world and UK film premieres.

They came back with the Odeon Panton Street, which is close to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Fine, I said. The important thing is that it's in central London and easy to get to.

A few days ago I asked the distributor if I could host a Q&A with an invited panel directly after the screening. I didn't go into detail but the idea was to generate debate between people who may have different opinions about the film.

This is important because I want the event to appeal to a wider audience, not just die hard vaping advocates.

Earlier this week I also spoke to the representative of a pro-vaping campaign and suggested we host the event together. He agreed.

Unfortunately, almost a month since I registered an interest in hosting a screening of A Billion Lives, and despite regular correspondence with the distributor, I am still waiting for confirmation that it will go ahead.

If I haven't heard by the weekend I'll probably drop it. I've enough battles to fight without giving myself extra and, some might say, superfluous work.

See also: A Billion Lives in the UK (Facts Do Matter).

Update: The distributor has just informed me that neither the Odeon Leicester Square nor Panton Street is available on the requested date - a day they suggested to us!!

The Odeon, I am now told, "are working on some alternative date options and will come back with suggestions next week."

To put this in perspective, this correspondence has been ongoing since September 14.

To quote Dragon's Den, "I'm out."

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Reader Comments (2)

I won't be going to the Lincoln showing. I haven't been to the cinema since smoking was banned --- yes really. I never understood how or why a cinema with multi-screens could not open one for smokers and another for non smokers - or even have an interval room for them to enjoy in the break - but now we know the ban was never about health but forcing smokers into a minority bit by bit so that open discrimination against them could be become acceptable.

I have been on about 2 occasions since the ban and both times I had no choice but to go. One was the Addams Family on a first date with my current other half, and the 2nd was Changeling which I had to watch for homework when studying for my MA.

I don't have to go to see A Billion Lies and won't pay to be fed propaganda. So, like you - "I'm out" - a common occurrence for smokers these days wherever they go.

Instead, I wait for films I want to watch to come on TV where I can watch them comfortably in my own home where no one minds if I smoke.

Saturday, October 8, 2016 at 14:05 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I can understand your frustration Simon. I, like you, have had huge reservations about the film but would like to see it. However in the big scheme of things I'm not sufficiently curious to travel an hour to a venue after a day's work to watch it. How selfish of me!

Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 23:47 | Unregistered CommenterRussell VR Ord

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