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Wednesday
Nov022016

Director Aaron Biebert replies to my review of A Billion Lives

Aaron Biebert, director of A Billion Lives, has replied to my review of his documentary.

His comments are posted here, below the review, but I thought they deserved greater prominence. Unlike ASH Scotland I don't have a problem publishing opposing views or giving people the right of reply.

Aaron's response follows the film's latest trailer that promotes a special screening in Delhi on November 9.

Billed as the film's Indian premiere, it will coincide with the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) that takes place in Delhi from 7-12 November.

Hi Simon,

First of all, thanks for taking the time to go see the movie and to provide a thoughtful review. I don't agree with all of your conclusions or remarks, but I do appreciate them.

The movie was created for future generations to tell the story of how millions (or even a billion given enough time) people will die early from smoking and how corruption in our government and NGOs helped enable that death. Even though I agree 100% that smokers should have the right to smoke (and not be harassed), the movie was not about the right to smoke. With some estimating that there are now 1.4 billion smokers, that right is alive and well.

This was about the right to quit. Something that is quite serious to those seeking to do so (obviously not your camp).

I agree that some parts are less interesting to older people now, but the younger (& future) generations will be shocked.

A couple notes:

  • I was saying "Preachers", not "Teachers"
  • If 1.4 billion people are smoking and 70% would like to quit, that's approximately a billion people "trapped"
  • You seem unsure if there's widespread corruption and lying about the topic, yet your blog is full of posts abouut such things. Are we both "conspiracy theorists"?
  • We don't seek to interview the tobacco companies, because this film was not about the players in the vaping industry (which now includes tobacco companies). It was about the other side.
  • I named the film "A Billion Lives" because that was the stat that caught my attention. I realize now that it's a contentious stat, but I'm not sure why the continuous harping on it. Smokers are dying early from cigarettes. People are dying early from many things they choose to do and I am ok with them choosing to do so. However, it seems a bit of a red herring to keep arguing about the stats. Would it be better if we called it 756,000,000 lives? What number is ok? I'm curious.
  • The target audience is the public, who is very curious about these devices and the battle they hear about. We appear to have an audience, as it will be successfully shown about 100 times during the opening month. The UK is less curious for obvious reasons.
  • We don't focus on the enjoyment that people get out of vaping, because that's not the point of the film. The internet is full of videos and blogs about how great it is. This was a corruption film.
  • You might find my part to be a bit too strong, but we let the experts speak for themselves. No scripting. No hyperbole. Their recurring message was the base of the film.
  • The reviews (professional and amateur) found on IMDB are quite positive. After 1000+ reviews, we have a 9.6 out of 10 rating. The two professional reviews they link to were fairly positive. The LA Times said we made "a compelling case".

Here are some other reviews:
NYC Movie Guru
Screen-Space
Ryan Jay Reviews

I've appreciated your continued interest. Honestly, I'll miss your blog posts. I always got such a kick out of how many people send me them all upset ... and how I usually was quite entertained. Even your review has me smiling a bit. We don't see eye to eye, but I do respect your passion.

Aaron Biebert
Director, A Billion Lives

------------------------

Thanks, Aaron, I appreciate your response and respect your passion too.

You make some valid points. I could reply to some of them but I won't because this debate could go on for ever.

Also, I know you're busy and I don't want to take advantage of that by trying to have the last word. Others can of course comment if they want to.

Good luck in Delhi. That's a premiere I would love to have attended!

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Reader Comments (21)

I've been around smokers all my life. I know of none who feel "trapped". That idea is a vaper view and sound bite to persuade those currently persecuting smokers that if they just promote and lay off vaping, the poor addicted, trapped into that addiction, smoker will be saved.

It is just more politics and propaganda using smokers for self gain in exactly the way smokerphobic public health quangos use us.

Those that have wanted to quit managed to do so decades before ecigs were invented.

Aaron just doesn't understand why smokers find the film offensive and frankly he doesn't care, and why should he. As he said, his audience was never meant to be us but just another pop by someone allegedly wanting to "help" us.

If indeed he did want to expose "conspiracy" then he should have been fair and also investigated the conspiracy that claims smoking will lead to a billion lost lives and all the crap about smoking and health that goes back many decades.

If he hasn't already read Chris Snowden's Velvet Glove Iron Fist then perhaps he should. That would have been a good place to start his research.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 16:07 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Dear Aaron Biebert, if Simon isn't ready to respond to your points, there are plenty of us who are. And plenty of us who defend smoking and smokers not because of a 'right to smoke', but because we are in the midst of a huge, well-funded, nasty crusade against us, and it's a crusade powered by lies, exaggerations, and misleading statistics.

Just to respond to a couple of your points: Statistics really are the issue here because that is what anti-smoking is built on - not on genuine science. Where you have 'lost the plot' is that you seem to think the war against vaping is dishonest and corrupt, but the war against smoking is pure as the driven snow.

You can't claim your movie is 'not about' smoking or the tobacco industry, since your whole premise is based on accepting outrageous antismoking propaganda as gospel. Why are people making a big deal about your 'Billion Lives'? Because it's the TITLE of your movie, for God's sake! You then back-pedal by saying 'so what if that's not the exact number? What's the right number?' That's just the point. THERE IS NO RIGHT NUMBER.

'70%' of smokers want to quit'. No, we don't. This is one of many antismoking 'soundbites' that are simply repeated over and over because they don't get challenged. Others include 'biggest preventable cause of death', and 'tobacco will kill half its users' - which I've watched rise from a quarter, then a third - not because of new evidence but because they can say anything they like and get away with it.

Infuriating when that happens, isn't it?!

This is just a blog post, so no room for lots of facts and figures, but there are many sources. All I can add is, if the work you've put into the vaping issue serves you as preparation for the real issue - which is that the whole damn antismoking industry is dishonest and corrupt, and that antivaping is just the latest offshoot of it - then your time and our time will not have been wasted.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 16:22 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Jackson

Trying to downplay the accuracy of statistics is characteristic of propaganda. After all the entire contention that smoking causes diseases and early death is based on those same statistics which have been exaggerated by tobacco control. Same with the canard that 70% of smokers wish to quit. That is a fabrication. Hence a Billion Lies...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 17:30 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

Vinny Gracchus: I would put it slightly differently. Propaganda often makes a big deal about statistics, and OVERPLAYS them - but, claiming 'our statistics are right' while downplaying the accuracy of other peoples' (or for that matter, the inaccuracy, inadequacy, bias, or misleading nature of their own).

There are credible statistics and there are dodgy statistics (Are you listening Aaron?) Quick example: I'm in New York at the moment where I've just seen new posters on the Subway (Metro/Tube) system saying, be careful because last year, 50 people were killed in accidents with the trains. That is credible because there were mangled bodies and someone counted them. Contrast that with Mayor Bloomberg in 2003, introducing his smoking ban by stating with absolute certainty that it would save 1,000 lives per year. But since then, there is not a shred of evidence that it has saved even one life. That's 13,000 Lies right there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 19:29 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Jackson

Mr Biebert, I appreciate that it was not your specific intention to attack smokers in favour of vapers, and I also accept that there is a possibility that vaping may be less of an exacerbating factor in ill-health than smoking, although that is as yet far from certain. However, what Joe Jackson writes above is more than pertinent in this case.

Your whole movie is based on the premise that what Tobacco Control tell us is true. I would strongly recommend that you do some reading on the subject. A good place to start would be here:

https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/1998/10/lies.pdf

And here:

http://members.iinet.com.au/~ray/TSSOASb.html

Which will give you an inkling of the extent to which Tobacco Control manipulate figures and statistics to suit their agenda. (For 'manipulate', you can, if you wish, substitute 'lie about'. The end result is the same.)

Having read those couple of links (and there are many more which go into greater detail, if you care to pursue them), you might then understand why smokers take issue with both the title and the thrust of your movie.

By all means promote vaping. I have no problem with that. But please, don't do it on the back of lies disseminated by fanatical zealots. It does you no favours, nor does it do any favours to those who are being persecuted by the aforesaid zealots.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 20:36 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

Joe Jackson, Thanks for your comment. You are of course right tobacco control both downplays statistics it doesn't like (my original point) and exaggerates and overplays those that support its goals of prohibition. In both cases they manipulate and lie. VG

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 21:05 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

I hate lies and propaganda: always have done and always will.
The people eventually catch up to see liars get their just rewards.

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 0:01 | Unregistered CommenterHelen D

Strange how millions quit more or less cold turkey back in the day. I recall many friends, acquaintances and family members who just quit because they...um..wanted to. Simple - no patches, lozenges, suicidal drugs, plastic fags, patronising movies. Took heed of advice that wasn't relentlessly shoved down their throats and just got on with it. It was, of course their 'right' to do so.

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 1:22 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

Aaron Biebert, I agree with other posters here stating that you are basing a public health cause worth supporting on a number of lies and misinformation on tobacco smoking. However, I understand that the global political power and financial clout of the anti-smoking lobby (the so-called "Tobacco Control") is so overwhelming that your endorsement of some of their main mantras and propaganda is simply a matter of pragmatism: perhaps you feel that if you do not do it, you are marginalized and ostracized, your message is then lost.

However, this pragmatism has its limits. If the vaping alternative succeeds, this would mark a precedent when a globally powerful lobby (Tobacco Control) was forced to retreat from its prime "quit or die" strategy. Controllers fear that in our social networks era this will open them to further questioning, for example on harm from ETS which is based on flimsy evidence. Once this is questioned, other issues may be put in the mire: like the pharmaceutical lobbying to promote faulty NRT's or controversial medication like Champix, or the legitimacy of MSA money, or the X million lives based on faulty scare mongering statistics, or the "nicotine addiction" theory. In short, they fear that by welcoming the vaping alternative thay would be opening the gate to being scrutinized on a Pandora's box of issues and vested interests on which they have been lying. They fear not being able to control this process. So, you should not expect that voicing some of its propaganda will earn the vaping alternative any favor from Tobacco Control.

If the vaping alternative wins the day, a lot of Tobacco Control propaganda and misinformation may be publicly exposed and condemned. By giving credence in your film to some of this propaganda (the X million lives and the addiction theory), you risk being tarnished when the "$hit hits the fan".

Finally, is adopting a pragmatic strategy that admits certain lies but may allow for globally spreading a good message preferable to being totally honest and ethical but remaining marginal? This is a very difficult question that has always plagued political activity. I do not claim to have an answer, do you?

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 3:59 | Unregistered CommenterRoberto

A billion deaths “caused” by smoking over the next century; 70% of smokers want to quit; nicotine “addiction”. They’re all antismoking (prohibitionist) concoctions. I would venture that Biebert hasn’t a clue how these claims originated but is quite happy to parrot them. Others have well indicated some of the antismoking shenanigans in Biebert’s “documentary” such as “a billion lives”, so here’s some information less familiar.

70% want to quit (see comments towards the end)
https://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/70/

The 70% want to quit “research” was conducted by antismokers and published on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website in the early 2000s. The CDC and the Office of the Surgeon-General have long (since the 1970s) been hijacked by antismoking activists committed to their smokefree “utopia”. They have used these 2 organizations to make a plethora of baseless antismoking claims masqueraded as “science” exploiting “appeal to authority”.

However, it seems a bit of a red herring to keep arguing about the stats.

Aaron, you seem to not comprehend that your frequent parroting of these [junk] stats is crucial to your pro-vaping “argument”.

This was a corruption film.

Aaron, you don’t seem to be familiar at all with antismoking corruption. Not only are you not aware of how the current antismoking crusade started and by whom (See “Godber Blueprint”), but you’re oblivious to the greater, sordid 400+ year history of antismoking, particularly in America since the mid-1800s. You are entirely unfamiliar with misocapny/capnophobia. Antismoking fanatics are notorious for constant, incessant, pathological lying for the “cause”. Finger-wagging zealots also use a standard, baseless inflammatory language, e.g., “death”, “kill”, “disease”. Aaron, you seem to have lapped up the antismoking corruption hook, line, sinker, fishing rod, aluminium boat, and part of the jetty. And, so, like many in the vaper camp, you, too, have become an antismoking zealot peddling vaping as the means to “salvation”.

Even though I agree 100% that smokers should have the right to smoke (and not be harassed)

Sure, Aaron. We’ve been hearing that line from the antismoking nut cases for decades. Yet the same nut cases have been involved in salami slice steps of smoking bans where there are now few places left where people can legally smoke and baseless, extortionate levels of tax. The same nut cases are now entertaining the idea of an “endgame” (full prohibition) for smoking. So, Aaron, the antismoking rhetoric that you’re parroting has been instrumental in the denormalization of smoking/smokers unto prohibition. When you parrot the rhetoric, you are supporting the denormalization unto prohibition whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not. Interestingly, we now even have vaping activists suggesting that vaping will eradicate the smoking “problem” entirely. Just give smokers an e-gadget, they’ll quit smoking, and everyone will saunter hand-in-hand through the daisy-covered fields and live happily ever after. For heaven’s sake!

You might find my part to be a bit too strong, but we let the experts speak for themselves.

What experts are these? Goerlitz and Godshall? Goelitz, an actor, went from tobacco adverts to the anti-smoking side to the anti-anti-smoking side and, now, to the pro-vaping side. He commented for a while on Siegel’s blog a few years ago. A nice enough chap, but an attention-seeker he is. He’ll push the barrow of where the attention is, particularly if it involves a few interviews or, better still, some on-camera work. He is entirely unfamiliar, i.e., ignorant, with statistical shenanigans and the history of antismoking. Then we have Bill Godshall who’s been a high-profile, rabid antismoking activist for decades. And “rabid” well suits Godshall. As far as a hatred of smoke/smoking/smokers goes, Bill is in the “twilight zone”. He’s right out there with the [neurotic, hysterical] pixies. Bill is not so much concerned with the well-being of smokers as he is for never having to endure even a whiff of tobacco smoke – ever. Bill is a bona fide misocapnist/capnophobic. He is on record for having made the baseless, highly-inflammatory claim that being exposed to tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke) is “like” being raped. He was given the opportunity a while ago on Dick Puddlecote’s blog to retract the claim. He refused; rather, he reiterated the claim: see comments section here
http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/erm-because-it-looks-like-smoking.html

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 6:00 | Unregistered CommenterInfo

So, what do we have in Biebert’s offering. It enters the fray accepting antismoking corruption as the factual base. And, so, the pro-vaping relies entirely on antismoking. It’s a battle between prohibitionists about how people should quit smoking. Their agreement is that people should quit smoking. There are those that believe that smokers should go “cold turkey”; some that smokers should quit using [useless] Pharma products. And now we have those that believe that smokers should quit using e-gadgets. Being an antismoking rant, we have to endure another wave of antismoking hysterics. If that wasn’t bad enough, the sub-amateurish trash that is “A Billion Lives” is peddled under the sub-title “The Truth Has Arrived”. Puhhhh-leeeezzz!!!

While vaping activists assume a moral high ground, lost in the antismoking kerfuffle is that peddling e-gizmos is also a financial venture. By promoting antismoking trash, the pressure is kept on smokers to quit which, for e-gadget sellers, can mean more sales. In this financial setting are the e-gadget salesmen highly enthusiastic to peddle antismoking derangement, promoting their product as the bringer of “salvation” just like Big Pharma has been doing for years concerning NRT.

And “A Billion Lives” is going to be showcased at COP7 (another 5-star event for the petty dictator set) in India. Biebert is most probably not aware that the unelected, unaccountable UN agency, the World Health Organization (see “Godber Blueprint) is at the root of the current antismoking crusade. Here’s an offering on the WHO from 2000, 4 years before most nations signed onto the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC):
http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/roger-scruton-on-who.html

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 6:02 | Unregistered CommenterInfo

Info, a quick clarification. A Billion Lives is not being "showcased at COP7". It is being screened to coincide with COP7 which is expected to ratify a series of anti-vaping (and anti-smoking) policies. I do however agree with a lot of the comments above. This is exactly the sort of debate I would like to have had following a screening of A Billion Lives in London or elsewhere.

To be fair to Aaron Biebert, he has at least engaged with us - I give him credit for that. Many of the leading pro-vaping advocates refuse to do so either because they are already part of the tobacco control network or because it suits their pro-vaping agenda to throw smokers under the bus.

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 8:58 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

"Would it be better if we called it 756,000,000 lives? What number is ok? I'm curious."

zero lives would be a more accurate number! Historic lung cancer rates, for example, are completely unaffected by smoker prevalence, so there is no reason to believe that increasing the number of vapers will make any difference either (unless vaping causes lung cancer which is highly unlikely).

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 15:25 | Unregistered CommenterFredrik Eich

So I am going to pass on commenting on the veracity of the content, other than to note that the discussion seems to suggest (I have not seen the video) that the author seems to lean heavily on half of the tobacco control claims that I listed as literally impossible to support (by which I meant not just a matter of disputes about empirical evidence, but claims that no conceivable evidence could ever support). See: https://antithrlies.com/2015/12/23/utter-innumeracy-six-impossible-claims-about-tobacco-most-public-health-people-believe-before-breakfast/ Mr. Jackson, if you are following the ongoing comments, you in particular might find that post interesting given your comments.

So what strikes me as a neglected aspect of the discussion is what the target audience was, and what the point of the project was more generally. I come at this from the perspective of someone who considers realtime communication, particularly video, to be an absolutely terrible way to communicate information and analysis. A documentary film has about as many words as five, maybe ten, blog posts. You can read the latter and more carefully contemplate and digest them in about a quarter of the time it takes to listen to the spoken words. So what is the value of video?

It is quite good for pure entertainment. That is clearly not the goal here. It is good for communicating information that needs pictures (especially moving ones), or for giving you a sense of being closer to an author or interviewee. I cannot imagine there was any of the former and the latter seems like rather a stretch; sure, I like seeing Clive talk (and anyone who has ever been in the same building with him has heard Bill talk), but it is not exactly like seeing one of the last survivors of D-Day tell his story. Video is also potentially better for persuasion (of matters true or false), inspiring believers, and riling-up supporters, at least for most people. The only apparent purpose of this not just being a print feature story or two are these.

So a video could be intended to rally believers to action. But it is pretty clear from the reviews that this is not such a video, and the author denies such a goal. That is fine (though it is an interesting contradiction with the chatter than says "vaping advocates need to turn out and buy tickets for this"). A video can convince people on the fence about a policy to tip one way. But this seems to not be about selling a particular policy position so much as one man's interpretation of the backstory behind the existing policies. And even if it were, it is not clear why it would be reasonable to expect many on the fence to ever make the effort to see it; they are on the fence due to indifference and lack of information-seeking, not informed ambivalence, after all.

So then we have the above-stated goal of telling a story for the future. And that has me seriously baffled. I simply cannot imagine why anyone in the future, be that a policy advocate or other interested party five years from now or a doctoral student fifty years from now, would look to what I understand to be the content of this particular work. I am not sure exactly what will be the canon for that (though I have a few suggestions!), but there are a lot of blogs, videos, and articles to choose from. If I wanted to try to move up the queue there, I would have gone for a semi-scholarly book, not an infotainment medium.

That is speaking just for myself, of course. I am not saying that others could not do well with a different approach, nor expressing great confidence that my suggested approach would necessarily work. But if that is the goal, then there needs to be something other than a skimming of the surface of supposed conspiracy story (which sounds to be rife with out-and-out wrong claims, incidentally, but as I said, I am not covering that here). There needs to be some "gotcha" or "aha" in that story. Or it needs to be very carefully explored in detail -- i.e., we are back to the written word -- to be anything more than what you can read in blogs. (The comments on this post alone are already approaching as many words as I would guess the video contains.)

Moreover, if that is the goal, it needs a deeper dive into expertise, particularly expertise about the politics and historical politics here. A couple of the people in the credits have a lot of that covered (and I do mean two), but they have their own agenda and limits, so more breadth would be needed. Most of those listed have nothing useful to contribute to this particular theme, and some, I would guess based on what they have written, would make a definitely negative contribution to understanding (perhaps explaining the accuracy of the thesis). Meanwhile, a dozen obvious must-get voices on the topic -- most of whom would probably have participated if asked -- are missing.

I would need to make a deeper study of this to form an opinion about what happened here. Perhaps the author just had a fixed story(!) he wanted to tell and enlisted and then culled interviews to tell it. I have certainly dealt with plenty of reporters who act that way. Perhaps it was classic Dunning-Kruger, and the author started out not knowing enough about the nuances and depths of what he wanted to report, so he relied on a group that, on average, merely appear expert to a non-expert, and so got sucked down a particular path by it.

But whatever that story, I am definitely not feeling like enough was done to have any hope of getting beyond infotainment-level or flag-waving content. And so taking all of that together, I am just not seeing how there is much hope of this working for any conceivable goal.

Oh, and finally, if the target and goal is really that stated goal of informing history, it is difficult to understand the frustration about not being able to sell tickets and such. The target audience does not currently exist, after all.

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 18:40 | Unregistered CommenterCarl V Phillips

Ah, but just think – in the years to come people will find it mildly amusing that someone was actually permitted to make a whole film encouraging people to vape instead of smoking because they claimed it was “safer,” when, of course “everybody will know” (by then) that vaping is just as dangerous, if not more so (depending on how popular vaping becomes at its zenith) than traditional cigarette smoking - in the same way that people today smile incredulously at the sight of those old cigarette advertising posters which advocated a certain brand of cigarettes because “95% of doctors” smoked them! Vapers are just fooling themselves if they naïvely continue to think otherwise.

Friday, November 4, 2016 at 1:53 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Mr. Biebert seems to harbor some of the same regrettable (and, frankly, naive) assumptions that afflict a large number of vaping evangelists:

1) That tobacco control was an honest, decent, morally upstanding enterprise up until the day e-cigs came along.

2) That a majority of smokers don't actually enjoy smoking or gain any benefit from it; they are merely "addicts" who need to be saved from themselves by the people who know what's best for them.

3) That all (or most) smokers would switch to vaping in the absence of anti-vaping rhetoric from politicians and "public health" grandees.

Full disclosure: I haven't seen the movie and have no particular desire to. It's an advocacy piece made by a true believer in a political cause. I would have exactly the same opinion of it having watched it as I do having not done so.

Friday, November 4, 2016 at 2:48 | Unregistered CommenterNate

On the other hand . . . !

Just the existence of this movie is symptomatic of a growing interest in the issue of vaping, something that could turn out to be the 'game-changer' many of us hope for. It puts 'tobacco control' in a deliciously awkward situation. On the whole, they're anti-vaping, for three reasons: (1) Ignorance and prejudice against anything that 'looks like' smoking; (2) Neither they nor their supporters in the Pharma industry created it or profit from it, in fact it could mean loss of funding for them; (3) The more attention vaping gets, the more the rest of their lies and corruption could get exposed.

Friday, November 4, 2016 at 15:17 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Jackson

Full disclaimer: I have not seen this documentary.

That said, the repellent couldn't have struck any faster. It was the title itself. And no, it's not about what number it is or isn't that would fix that problem (though that the statement "A Billion" is attributable to WHO et al is itself a turn-off). For those of us in this fight -- aka those of us in the know -- for many many years longer than the creation of the e-cig and its ensuing controversy, that title immediately evokes the reaction that it is pitting one group against another. All we needed to know is that the video is about e-cigs/vaping and how the vast majority (not all) of its advocates and followers have been behaving and it might as well have been entitled "Lives Saved." The averse reaction would have been the same. It's got nothing to do with the chosen number at its most base, it's got all to do with how it's immediately clear that backs are about to be stepped on to gain elevation and then through use of the same extremism if that's what it takes.

I could go on and on about the players relied upon to advance the vaping cause but I'll mostly bite my tongue and leave it at they are wolves in sheeps' clothing. But for them vapers would not be facing what they're facing now. Parade around the dishonest "no safe level" and then try to defend anything even remotely related to the act of smoking? Please! They convinced the world there is "no safe level" That's why this e-cig battle exists at this level. They are reaping what they have sown and should have no seat at such a table. Godshall, ASH, Bates.... THEY put vapers in this situation. There's not a minute I could stomach their presence on film.

And here's the real twist... the criticism is not because I want to see vapers fail or just simply don't care It's because I want to see them be successful!

(P.S. -- Simon? What did he mean by "I'll miss your blog"? I didn't see him say after that that he's now going to tune you out. But was that it?)

Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 7:28 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey Silk

Hi Audrey, I agree completely with the "wolves in sheeps' clothing" description. Ditto your "reap what they have sown" point. To the best of my knowledge every of these pro-vaping anti-smoking advocates sticks religiously to the anti-tobacco script while complaining bitterly about public health 'lies' about vaping.

Like you I want to see vapers win their battle against excessive regulation because we believe in choice. Sadly that concept is entirely alien to many born again vapers and their 'pro vaping' heroes in tobacco control.

Re the "I'll miss your blog" comment, I think Aaron assumes I will no longer be writing about his film so there will be no need for him to read my posts, which is fair enough.

He may be right because now I've seen it there's not a lot to add, but we'll see.

In his defence, he has at least engaged with us in way that the likes of Bates et al refuse to do. He has also softened his view on smokers' rights campaigners. A year ago he was comparing us to Japanese soldiers who refused to accept that WWII was over.

Ultimately however Biebert is just a film-maker who will move on. Our battle continues and our opponents are those who seek to denormalise smokers and restrict choice. Sadly that includes many pro-vaping advocates including most if not all of the talking heads in A Billion Lives.

Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 9:01 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

I made up my mind about both the film and the producer early on when I, as many others, attempted to have a civil conversation with Biebert to point out a few of his errors and we were dismissed by him as delusional tobacco addicts. It appears that he parachuted himself into this issue with no previous knowledge about the public health anti-smoking corruption, thought he had just reinvented the wheel and wanted to cash in on his ''invention''. Label me a cynic but I don't believe for a minute that the production of this documentary had the altruistic motive to help smokers and/or vapers. Should he have taken the time and made the effort to research some of the leads many of us gave him to see how deep the corruption has been running for decades, he could have produced an accurate valuable film instead of parroting propaganda that will not get the vaping cause further than it got the very many brilliant writers and activists that struggled (and still struggle) to denounce the anti-tobacco industry corruption long before vaping was even invented.

Too bad really because vaping presented an excellent opportunity to clearly bring to light just how corrupted public health is not only for smoking or vaping but for other ongoing overkill public health campaigns and campaigners who resort to junk science to either make a lucrative career or, for some rare true puritans, dictate their ideal way of living to the populace. Instead, Biebert and many other vaping proponents just help drive the rabid anti-tobacoo message even deeper into the minds of the uninformed and the unsuspecting.

Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 14:45 | Unregistered CommenterIro Cyr

I agree with Audrey, and many others who have commented here, so I will add another 2 (or maybe 3) cents worth. It REALLY peeves me when they say we are 'addicted' to nicotine. It is just a way to demonize tobacco users. Seems few realize that nicotinic acid (nicotine) is actually a form of VITAMIN B6 AKA Niacin - it is a precursor. In the USA, lots of folks pay $3 a one ounce (tiny) bottle for 'Instant Energy' drinks, and if you read the label, you will find one ingredient is a LARGE dose of Niacin. So, of COURSE niacin has some significant effects on our physiology, as do ALL THE OTHER vitamins. Also, nicotine occurs NATURALLY (not added by 'evil' tobacco companies) in LOTS of FOOD. The short list includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, broccoli, chocolate and tea. So, when is WHO going to make war against all those OTHER sources of the 'evil' nicotine???

Another claim that really gets to me is the 'no safe level of exposure' nonsense. If that were true, then we should BAN so called 'clean' smoke free air. Smoke free air contains bacteria, viruses, mold, fungi, spoors, pollen, animal dander, dust mites, dust mite EXCREMENT, flakes of dead human skin (some study says that is 80% of the dust in restaurants!), and THOUSANDS of other chemicals, including formaldehyde leaching from paneling and carpet, and MANY other 'known carcinogens'. IMO, there is NO KNOWN 'safe level of exposure to so called 'clean' smoke FREE air. How about, instead of banning smoking, we ban NEUROTIC people?

Lastly, I would like to point out that neither WHO, nor any Doctor living, nor any other human being has EVER succeeded in 'saving' a SINGLE life. The ONLY thing humanly possible is to sometimes postpone death. I have a God given right to pursue happiness. I figured out decades ago that stress would kill me much faster than my smoking, so still smokin' here, for 50 plus years. Started when I was 15 - you can do the math.

I personally watched BOTH of my own parents LOSE their health AFTER they quit smoking to problems that are LOWER risk in smokers. I have watched MANY friends and family members too, quit smoking, then die from the stress & obesity related issues that followed (oh, and got lung cancer and died 2, 5, 10 and even 20 years later, (like Peter Jennings), on top of the other ex smoker's diseases of ulcerative colitis, crone's disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. There are people who are getting sick and even DYING because they were CONNED (or coerced) into giving up their natural herb. Lies, even lies about tobacco and smoking are EVIL, and harmful to our health. I have NO intention of ever quitting smoking.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 at 23:59 | Unregistered CommenterLynda Farley

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