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A billion, trillion, zillion lives

Some interesting responses to my previous post, here and elsewhere.

Dick Puddlecote replied and Grandad and Frank Davis chipped in too.

While we're on the subject of vaping, the producers of A Billion Lives, the documentary they hope will change the world, have just announced the date and location for the long-awaited world premiere.

It takes place next month in, er, New Zealand.

Before I post some of the promotional blurb, let's remind ourselves that this is not – according to some of its apologists – an anti-smoking film. No siree.

According to some the title is an ironic nod to the lies told by tobacco control, in this case the World Health Organisation's claim that if everyone stopped smoking a billion lives could be saved over the next century.

I'm sorry, but nothing that has been said or written about A Billion Lives – including the claim, in the film's trailer, that 165,000 children under the age of five die worldwide every year as a result of passive smoking – has ever come close to irony.

Instead the project appears to be driven by the type of evangelism that makes someone like me extremely uncomfortable.

Oh, I'm sure the film's producers are sincere when they say the aim of A Billion Lives is to highlight the lies told by some public health campaigners with regard to e-cigarettes.

I'm sure they're also sincere in their desire to promote a genuine harm reduction product.

It seems strange however to attack elements of the public health industry for, on the one hand, telling untruths about vaping, then repeat some of the myths, distortions and, yes, lies those same bodies spread about smoking in order to bolster the argument for e-cigarettes.

Anyway, let's be charitable and accept that A Billion Lives is not an anti-smoking film. Or, to put it another way, 'No smoker has been demonised during the making of this documentary.'

Here's the latest promotional email:

We've traveled across four continents, but missed one area of the world that is facing tremendous death and disease from smoking: Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.

That all changes on May 11th.

It's a mess down there. Two out of every five indigenous New Zealanders smoke. They just threw an Australian man in jail for selling vapor technology. Half the world's smokers are in Asia.

We are eager to use our world premiere to shed light on a dire situation. They need help.

No, nothing anti-smoking about that.

Meanwhile here's another description of A Billion Lives courtesy of the Doc Edge festival which is hosting the world premiere next month:

In 20 years' time, there will be nearly 1.6 billion smokers around the world. Approximately 70% of smokers want to quit.

The United Nations’ World Health Organisation expects a billion people will die prematurely from smoking this century. The products their doctors recommend are rarely effective and many are trapped.

A new vapour technology was invented to give smokers a successful way to quit. But it was quickly demonised, and even banned in many countries.

A perfect storm is brewing between smokers trying to quit, government regulators, and health charities funded by the powerful pharmaceutical industry.

Director Aaron Biebert travelled across four continents interviewing doctors, scientists, and others working to save a billion lives.

What he found was profound government failure, widespread corruption in the public health community and powerful subversion by big business.

Leaving aside the Michael Moore-style promotion, I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing A Billion Lives when it comes over here.

Curiously however I've yet to see any mention of a UK premiere. There's been talk of a European premiere (in Paris?) and a special screening at the Global Nicotine Forum in Warsaw in June, but nothing to suggest a screening in dear old Blighty despite the fact that several Brits feature in the film.

Given the UK is arguably the most vaper-friendly anti-smoking country on earth I'm surprised no-one has yet booked a cinema in the West End for such an event. There are many auditoriums available for hire in London including some of the most famous commercial cinemas in Leicester Square.

They don't cost the earth either. I know because I once booked a cinema for a private screening and I've just checked the current prices. They're available from £100 an hour.

So here's an idea. Forest (or Action on Consumer Choice) will host it.

Why not? Who wouldn't want to help promote a documentary whose producers boast:

"We’re putting everything we have into making this the defining film for an entire generation and helping end the grip smoking has on over a billion people."

On second thoughts ...

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Reader Comments (17)

Sigh. In the quoted material alone, they managed to repeat two of the six impossible things tobacco controllers believe that I noted here:

Monday, April 4, 2016 at 22:06 | Unregistered CommenterCarl V Phillips

The problem is that the antismoking claims are gross exaggerations. The second hand smoke claims are outright lies.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 0:45 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

A very generous offer Simon - go for it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 9:25 | Unregistered CommenterLiam Bryan

No, nothing anti-smoking about that.

According to DickP and others of the vaping community, it’s all an honest misunderstanding. The producers of the doco meant to say that “if this is what the WHO believes…..”, but not everyone got the memo. So, unfortunately, it accidentally comes across in the doco that the producers also believe the “billion deaths” claim and a raft of other Tobacco Control claims. The producers have apparently called an urgent meeting and are at this very minute speaking of presenting a correction sheet at screenings indicating that whenever the doco appears to agree with Tobacco Control claims about smoking – which is often – viewers should mentally make the adjustment while viewing the doco that the producers don’t really believe these claims. This is a Siegel tactic. He would make claims to his blog readers that particular conduct towards smokers was appalling. Then one of his readers would happen on a media article where Siegel was quoted as endorsing the “appalling” conduct. He would then be called out on his blog to explain the discrepancy. The answer was always the same…… “that’s not what I meant to say” [in the media article] or “they misquoted me”. By the 5th or 6th time it becomes easy to suspect that the man is two-faced…. a liar…. who’s taking his blog readers for a ride.

Enough of this obfuscation. The producers of this upcoming doco ARE antismokers – prohibitionists. They believe that smoking should be eradicated from the world…… as they clearly state. And the “miraculous” gadget is going to be instrumental in the eradication. Most vapers are prohibitionists. They believe most, if not all, of what’s been claimed about smoking, turning to e-gizmos to escape the “evil weed”. There are now e-gizmo expos with their razzamatazz showcasing gadgetry galore with all sorts of bells and whistles – e-gizmos with wheels, e-gizmos with disco mirror-balls, etc, etc. They believe they’re on the “up”. And with a combination of “evangelical” fervour and business opportunities, the gadget folk are convinced they’re going to save the world from smoking and make a financial “killing” in the process, converting as many smokers to their “miraculous” gizmos as possible.

Fair enough. Just be honest as to what you’re about. At least we know where we all stand. Unfortunate is the conduct of vapers, a la Tobacco Control, to blur all this activity. We’re not antismoking; we’re not trying to convert smokers; we’re all live and let live. It all depends on the forum they’re in. Where there are obviously smokers present, they play the “we’re not trying to convert smokers”. Yet the same folk when on e-cigarette blogs are only about converting smokers and parroting Tobacco Control claims about smoking.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 9:43 | Unregistered CommenterJamaica

Ye gods. In any other domain the producers would stand accused, perhaps, of a little hyperbole. To sensitive old Clark they're committing some unforgivable moral transgression.

How funny.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 9:43 | Unregistered Commentertwatface

The suggestion that smokers are responsible for the deaths of 165,000 children under the age of five is more than "a little hyperbole", don't you think? Or perhaps you don't. Either way, if you're accusing others of getting their 'facts' wrong about vaping it's best not to repeat – as if they are true – 'facts' about smoking that are tendentious at best. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 10:29 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Pushing the fraud of SHS, which has been debunked hundreds of times, to push forward acceptance of ecigs is not only anti-smoking it is smokerphobic and grossly offensive to smokers.

Smokers not only have to fight Big T, but Big Public Health and Now Big E too.

Don't tell me all these evangelical vaper movers and shakers are just in it because they care about the people they don't think twice about abusing here, or using negatively to promote their film. They're in it for the money. How many that fight this are in business selling ecigs and therefore have vested interests?

I'm glad you can now see it Simon but good luck with trying to pull us together. I was with them all the way up to the EU TPD because they said the showing up the junk science on vaping would also by default show up the lies and junk science on smoking but they never intended to do that. However, as I was fighting for them and us, I saw too many Tweets on Twitter from them along the theme of "Stuff smokers, help us and we'll help you to eradicate smoking forever." (Thanks chaps) Imagine if we had all stood together on the whole thing rather than vapers and their lying Ecigs saves lives crap shafting us to save themselves.

Maybe together we could have stopped the whole thing. Now we both lose.

They won't work with us. They have to beat us up to win favour. Vapers on the side of smokers who want to win the vaping battle must fight for smokers first - but there's no money in ecigs if they can't force smokers to switch. We are cash cows to them like the others making money out of us.

BTW, let me say again for the intellectually challenged who think the only harm reduction is quitting or vaping. Smoking less or taking up some other hobby that keeps hands busy like knitting, doing jigsaws, or adult colouring, also works as harm reduction and can save lives too.

Can Forest make a film about that please? Perhaps we can call it 3 trillion lives ;)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 13:44 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Knitting Pat?

But what about those big steel needles? You could do some serious damage if you sat on them by accident, worse still, what if a child walked into the room and fell on them while you were knitting?
I've been expecting my knitting needles to be banned for some time under the Precautionary Principle, I've had them so long, gulp, some of them are even numbered in Imperial.

I fear it's only a matter of time.

On vaping, after whats happened to us all, I wouldn't like to be so dependent on technology or suppliers again, after all if it came to it, I only need a piece of paper and a dried leaf.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 17:42 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

Sshh Rose. Don't give 'em ideas.

I agree about tobacco. My skills as a grower improve every year. 🙌

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 18:18 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Pat, if it gets any worse we may have to do as our ancestors did.

James 1st raised the tobacco tax to "the Somme of Six Shillinges and eighte Pence uppon everye Pound Waight thereof, over and above the Custome of Twoo Pence uppon the Pounde Waighte usuallye paide heretofore" to price the average person out of the market.

So they bought what little they could afford and mixed it with other herbs to eke it out, if they couldn't afford it at all they missed out the tobacco entirely.

I found out that another name for Coltsfoot is British Tobacco for that very reason.
I used to love Coltsfoot rock, but I haven't seen it for a while.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 19:49 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

And so the schism is now clear for all to see. I rather suspect that the PHE and others in TC, in their endorsement of e-cigs, anticipated, perhaps even thought to engineer, just such a gulf opening up. Vapers are now 'on message', further marginalising smokers.

Bravo Simon for taking the stand you have. I've always supported the vaping community, and I know there are many vapers who still support those smokers for whom vaping is no alternative to the real thing, but more and more I'm seeing tacit support for Tobacco Control and its objectives in the vaping community. As you point out, the whole 'billion lives' baloney is just an extension of the TC propaganda. The cartoon featured on DP's blog the other day I found equally offensive, as it was in the same vein as the 'billion lives' thing. Yes, we all know that for some people smoking has the potential to be harmful to their health (just as we know that for others it has no health implications at all), but we also know that the propaganda put out by TC about the millions dropping like flies from 'smoking related®' diseases is just that - baseless propaganda. So when the vaping community start using those propaganda soundbites to further their agenda (at the expense of smokers), it really pisses me off.

And your response to 'twatface' (how apt) was both apposite and accurate. The idea that 165,000 kids under the age of five are killed by SHS is so risible that it defies belief. People must have very short memories that they can dismiss the fact that people of my age (I'm a 49er) grew up in a constant fug of tobacco smoke with no ill effects whatsoever. I do wonder at the gullibility of people nowadays.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 19:56 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

Oooh Rose - of course. What a good idea. I love tea and cigarettes and so I'll try a mix of tobacco and a mix of tea. I'll let you know how it smokes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 7:43 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Pat, mixing it together was for pipes, we have an advantage with cigarettes.
I realised that I threw away perfectly good tobacco in the stub, so if you pack the tea in the bit you don't smoke next to the filter, as it doesn't get burned the tea shouldn't affect the flavour.

Leaf tea of course, I tried it with crushed, slowly dried lemon balm, the looser packed the better.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 12:28 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

Single parenthood back in the poverty days of the 1980s was when I discovered that you can smoke tea leaves. I also found that if you break up one tailor-made cigarette into four thin roll ups you can smoke a lot less and make a pack of 10 stretch to 40 (yipeee - saving another trillion lives with harm reduction).

All this and of course single parent smokers like me back then are eviiiiiiiil because we clearly spend all the food money swiped from our children's mouths to feed our smoking addiction.

The truth, as always, is very different from the propaganda.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 13:08 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse


I had a nasty experience experimenting with the powdery contents of a teabag and didn't repeat the experience. Perhaps I should.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 15:31 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

And why would they premier it in London where its the cheapest,
where the audience is the most vapor friendly anti smoking country on earth, because they know that people wouldnt bother their ars to go and see it as they're anti smoked to death at this stage, except that is for a few of the anti smoking brigade.
New Zealand, Australia etc would be far more lucrative for the big bucks.
Far more unbroken smokers over there in the new territories.

Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 10:51 | Unregistered Commenterann

Not sure how to take the Double talk. This piece of artistic license seems expressive of an opposing organization on the front lines to derail any attempt bring arguments into alignment and ultimately bring truth and honesty to the table.
The U.K. for your claim of liberal action, only a few short years ago was on the Front line of Banning outright.
It took hard work and dedication to Expose the Truths to get to the point the UK is today.
I am Squarely in the Sights of the FDA as America has been Deceived on every front under the Guise of FOR THE CHILDREN. In this country if all else fails, just go with FOR THE CHILDREN to win restrictive control or outright Bans.
* Except where it is Profitable :/
I am 62 and still the main supporter of 8 in my family. After repeated Failures to stop Smoking and at age 58 I finally found something that STOPPED my Combustible Tobacco Use Immediately.
The Health differences are incredible and the Feeling of accomplishment has carried me without fail.
Millions are living examples of the Truth about Vaping and the Lies told for Profits in many nations.
I prey some day all people of the world will be allowed to make Better health choices without Fear of Control for Profits.
Lastly thank you UK for once again Leading the Way!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 20:50 | Unregistered CommenterDal

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