A Billion Lives: first reviews (the director is "super cute")

The self-styled pro-vaping, anti-corruption documentary A Billion Lives had its world premiere in New Zealand on Wednesday.

If I appear a little obsessed by this film it's because I am. I have a professional interest in the subject but I'm also drawn to independent projects like this.

The promotion of a small budget anti-establishment movie intrigues me and it was strangely exciting to follow director Aaron Biebert and his family and crew to Wellington and experience, even from a distance of 11,500 miles, the opening night on Periscope.

I'm such a stalker that I even watched, via Twitter, a clip of their plane landing in New Zealand.

Of course I have serious reservations about the film and while it would be unfair to leap to conclusions before I see it the first reviews confirm my fears.

Lavishing the film with praise, one reviewer described A Billion Lives as "like the Fahrenheit 9/11 of tobacco". That alone should set alarm bells ringing but consider this.

We were promised a film that would explore alleged corruption in government, public health and even the pharmaceutical industry. A Billion Lives may do all those things but here's what the first reviewers chose to highlight:

Becky: I’m a smoker and if nothing else, I’ve learned I cannot trust the tobacco industry or any big business involved in my healthcare.

Ryan: Since the tobacco industry used to lie about the dangers of smoking – denying their knowledge of that fact for decades before being held accountable for it – they have proven themselves untrustworthy and corrupt. How can anyone believe anything they say or those they influence?

Becky: Watching this movie makes it obvious that the tobacco industry and our government just think we’re all a bunch of shmucks who will believe anything. It makes you feel like they have zero respect for our ability to make sound decisions about our health, based on facts.

A second review headlined A Billion Lives has world premiere in New Zealand, revealing powerful forces aiding the tobacco industry appears to confirm that message:

Filmmaker Aaron Biebert ... journeyed to 13 countries on four continents to find similar patterns worldwide: here is a life-saving technology of e-cigarettes, but governments were banning them or fining citizens over their use, ignoring the science and deciding to be complicit with the tobacco industry in keeping people addicted to a harmful product.

Look, I don't want to come across as an apologist for the tobacco industry. Goodness knows the tobacco companies have done some dumb things in the past but in 2016 Big Tobacco is not the problem, it's part of the solution, or should be.

One of the locations where Biebert filmed was the "vaper-friendly" Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw. I understand he conducted a number of interviews when he was there last year but did he make any attempt to interview some of the tobacco company representatives who were there too?

Surely this would have been a great opportunity to get some comments straight from the horse's mouth? Instead, according to this second review, "the pro-smoking side was represented through historical clips".

Likewise, as he went from country to country, did Biebert interview any smokers who don't want to quit? Again, according to this review, "Vaping essentially allows one to get the pleasure of nicotine without the harm of the tar and toxins."

It's very easy to be critical of the tobacco industry if you accept the myth that every consumer is addicted to nicotine and vaping allows people to transfer that addiction to a less harmful product, but it ignores something else – the pleasure of smoking.

Nicotine is a factor in people's addiction to or enjoyment of smoking but there are other factors, as readers of this blog have confirmed many times.

Anyway, read the first reviews of A Billion Lives for yourself. I'm trying hard to keep an open mind, I really am, but it's not easy.

The director sounds nice, though:

Becky: Aaron is ... refreshingly Milwaukeean; sincere and doe-eyed. He seems naturally unrehearsed in his delivery, which I appreciated as a thinking and analytical person who is not receptive to preaching. I don’t want to be told what to think, and although he had a clear opinion, I did not feel any urgency from him to blindly agree with him. Instead, I saw him as a human being with an earnest interest in learning more.

Ryan: He’s real. Midwesterners are known to be welcoming and kind and he effuses those qualities.

Becky: He’s also super cute.

I wonder if they'll put that on the poster ... Better than "People are going to die".

PS. I've just noticed that director Aaron Biebert has commented on a previous post (No UK premiere for A Billion Lives (yet). Why not?)

Given this post it's only fair I include his comments here too:

Simon, I'm starting to like you. Thanks for all the advice and support.

I also wanted to clarify that the official announcement was this one, not your screenshot.

You'll be happy to know that our sold out world premiere at the Oscar-qualifying DocEdge film festival was a great success.

Seems like everyone had a fun night out. We were thrilled to see Sir Richard Taylor, politicians, athletes, doctors, and others join us.

Check out our Facebook page to learn more about what the critics are saying now.

Thanks, Aaron. I'm beginning to like you too. Jury is out on your film, though.


Four on film

Spent yesterday afternoon filming in London.

I wasn't doing the actual filming - Dan Donovan and his sound engineer Ben were doing that - but I tried to make myself useful in other ways, buying lunch, hailing taxis, rounding up interviewees, asking the questions, that sort of thing.

Dan is making a short film to be shown at our Battle of the Brands event at the Churchill War Rooms next week.

The event is to mark the introduction of plain packaging in the UK from next Friday but not everyone we invited could make it so we decided instead to capture their thoughts on film.

Yesterday therefore we spent the afternoon running around London filming Mark Littlewood, director-general of the IEA; Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas; Sam Bowman, director of the Adam Smith Institute; and Ella Whelan, deputy editor of Spiked.

Ella will be a new name to most of you but she's a rising star, increasingly on TV and radio talking about a variety of issues. (On Wednesday night she was in Belfast appearing on BBC Northern Ireland's Stephen Nolan Show.)

She impressed me enormously when I saw her on Nicky Campbell's Big Questions a few months ago. She's only 23 but she handles difficult issues really well.

A week or so ago she was interviewed about plain packaging on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on the BBC News Channel and impressed me again.

I found out she was a smoker when she posted a picture of herself on Twitter on No Smoking Day. Naturally she was smoking. Yesterday however she admitted she's almost given up but she doesn't strike me as the sort who will abandon her liberal principles so easily.

Ben, our sound man, has no plans to quit smoking. He's 22 and made the interesting point that people of his age have never known smoking in pubs and clubs yet lots of his friends smoke.

Neither the smoking ban nor the display ban has discouraged a new generation from smoking and plain packaging won't make any difference either.

Ben started smoking for the classic reasons. Without prompting he told me he began because of peer pressure and because both his parents smoked.

His father (who is 53 and therefore younger than me which made me feel extremely old) switched to e-cigarettes for a while but prefers smoking and has now switched back.

As readers know I'm all in favour of tobacco harm reduction as a goal and I support giving people the option of switching to e-cigarettes and other 'safer' products, but what I hate is the evangelical belief that all smokers would be better off switching and, wow, isn't vaping fun.

The reality, as I keep saying, is that a great many people enjoy smoking. Inform smokers about the alternatives but thereafter leave them alone and respect their choice.

Instead there's an assumption among some vaping advocates that if smokers can be persuaded (or forced) to switch to e-cigarettes their lives will never be the same again. Nirvana awaits.

The truth is that many smokers have tried e-cigarettes, found they don't like them, and keep smoking.

Claire Fox is another. Yesterday Claire told me she's keeping an open mind about vaping but when she previously tried to switch she didn't really like it.

There are a lot of smokers like that but their voices are never heard. The only people we hear from are ex-smoking advocates of vaping whose habit has become a hobby and, in some cases, an obsession.

Btw, Battle of the Brands is now fully subscribed. If you're coming on Tuesday I look forward to seeing you. It should be ... interesting.


Early bird tickets now available for The Freedom Dinner

Delighted to report details of The Freedom Dinner 2016.

This annual event, now in its fifth year, takes place on Tuesday 12th July at Boisdale of Canary Wharf.

Guests are invited to arrive from 6.15pm for a whisky cocktail reception on the smoking terrace. From 7.30 there will be a three-course dinner with wine in the main restaurant, followed by after dinner speeches.

Previous speakers have included General Sir Mike Jackson, former head of the British army; Lord Bell, former adviser to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan; Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute of Economic Affairs; Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas; Brendan O'Neil, editor of the online magazine Spiked; and Alex Deane, former chief of staff to David Cameron.

This year our speaker is Rod Liddle, associate editor of The Spectator. Former editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Rod writes a weekly column for The Spectator as well as contributing to The Sun and Sunday Times.

Please note, early bird tickets are available for £75 (single) until 31st May 2016. After that date they will cost £110 (single). To book call 0207 715 5815 or email

To download the flyer with full detail click here.


That GFN vaping policy – the mystery deepens

Quick update to an earlier post about the vaping policy at next month's Global Forum on Nicotine.

To recap, the organisers have banned vaping in all plenary and parallel sessions (ie most of the conference) because last year "non-vaping delegates" at this self-styled "vaper-friendly" event complained that they felt "trapped" by the "fog bank" of vapour.

You couldn't make it up.

Vapingpoint Liz mentioned it on her blog and received the following comments from people who were actually there.

Liam Bryan (Vapers In Power) wrote:

I was there last year, Liz, I obviously wasn't in all the sessions (some run concurrently) but in all the rooms I was in there was no "fog bank". The vapers, myself included, were only occasionally vaping and most of us had chosen older devices which don't produce much vapour anyway. I had my mini nautilus for the conference events for instance. I think whoever complained would have felt "trapped" by any amount of visible exhale!

Peter Stigaard wrote:

I was in Warsaw last year too and I also didn't witness banks of fog or clouds of vapours. People were taking quiet puffs during the sessions/plenaries and during breaks people had a vape in the conference lobby. Making a blanket ban on vaping will only result in the consumers not turning up for the GFN this year, I'm sad to say.

Intriguingly David Dorn (Vaper Trails TV) added:

It wasn't "friends" who complained ...

So if it wasn't 'pro-vaping' advocates who complained, who was it and why have the organisers rolled over to meet their demands when eye witness reports claim there was no "fog bank" of vapour.

Who exactly is running this conference and why have they imposed a policy on vaping that can only undermine the argument that vaping should be allowed in pubs and other enclosed public places.

Meanwhile Liz (a vaper) has posted a further piece about GFN, The Global Nicotine Forum – an inconvenient truth.

Liz notes that the "whole conference" is really about stopping people smoking:

The only talk that would interest ME is on the last day. 'Are vaping advocates throwing smokers under the bus by making alliances with public health?'.

In my cynical way, I would assume that after a whole conference of all sorts of academics and public health employees offering their nuggets to a crowd of like-minded people, the answer will be "no".

Oh Liz, that is cynical.

You're absolutely right, though. The answer will undoubtedly be a loud and indignant 'NO!' and afterwards everyone will skip off to the bar, swathed in a warm glow, happy to have convinced themselves (if no-one else) that they are not throwing smokers under a bus.

Update: On the subject of a "fog bank" at GFN15 my colleague Rob Lyons, who was there representing Action on Consumer Choice, tells me:

"I wasn't aware of one, no. I was sat in the middle most of the time so there might have been a few sub-ohmers sat at the back puffing away more voluminously. But it certainly didn't affect the plenary room as a whole nor the workshop room I was in."

That new vaping policy is beginning to look, at best, ridiculous. At worst ... I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.


Compassion in public health is rare - ain't that the truth

I shouldn't be surprised but I am, which is shocking in itself.

Commenting on the news that a council in New Zealand is looking to extend an outdoor smoking ban from playgrounds to other outdoor areas, Dr Marewa Glover, associate professor at Massey University's School of Public Health, said:

Extending smokefree areas is becoming a new form of segregation, and may do more harm than good to smokers.

Marewa Glover says our heaviest smokers are among sections of the community who already feel "marginalised and discriminated against" - Maori, Pacific Islanders, solo mums, those with mental illnesses.

"These groups are already feeling hard done by and punished by society. Then you bring in a campaign that hopes by further shaming them for smoking, it's going to get them to quit.

"But it's just heaping more punishment on them. The cumulative effect of all that excluding and marginalising is to increase their stress, their depression, their anger - and all that drives smoking."

I can't remember hearing another health professional talk about smokers in this way, treating them like human beings and expressing concern about "segregation", "shaming", marginalisation and so forth.

So last night I tweeted Dr Glover, thanking her for her comments. Compassion for smokers who don't want to quit is unusual. Among public health professionals it's almost non-existent.

Dr Glover 'liked' my tweet and in response I also got a tweet from a leading member of the New Nicotine Alliance who pointed out that Dr Glover is a "keynote" speaker at the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw next month. For good measure she added the hashtag, #justsayin.

Thank you. I know who Dr Glover is (she was in the UK recently speaking at Durham University). I know she's speaking at GFN16. I also know that she spoke at last year's event.

In fact, as I write, I'm watching her on Periscope. (She's attending the world premiere of A Billion Lives in Wellington, New Zealand, because she features in the film.)

Unfortunately one swallow doesn't make a summer and I would be amazed if her fellow health professionals at GFN followed her example and spoke in similar terms.

In fact, I don't think I have EVER heard another health professional or smoking cessation expert criticise ANY smoking ban.

Compassion for smokers who don't want to quit isn't part of their DNA. Every smoking cessation policy is designed to coerce or cajole them to quit.

Policies ranging from smoking bans to punitive taxation to "shaming" smokers for their habit – not to mention the segregation and discrimination Dr Glover refers to – all receive unconditional support.

The same is true of almost all "pro-vaping" public health advocates.

There's never any mention or acknowledgement of the negative impact these policies may have on ordinary people.

And it's not just health professionals and anti-smoking campaigners. The New Nicotine Alliance itself is noticeably silent whenever there's talk of extending smoking bans to outdoor areas.

"Nothing to do with us, guv," is their habitual response.

So forgive me if I don't fall for the fallacy that just because Dr Glover is speaking at GFN that somehow makes the entire conference smoker-friendly and compassionate to those who don't want to quit.

GFN isn't even vaper-friendly!!!

PS. If her compassion for smokers wasn't unusual enough, Dr Glover added:

"We're moving beyond the reason for banning smoking indoors, which was ... protecting the health of by-standers from secondhand smoke.

"Now what we're doing [banning smoking in outdoor open areas] has no scientific evidence of health reasons."

Perhaps Dr Glover and fellow health professionals at GFN could issue a joint statement to that effect. Sadly I don't think many (if any) of them would sign it, do you?

See Public health professor warns Wellington smokefree moves will cause harm (Dominion Post).

Significantly Dr Glover later tweeted: "How shameful it's come to this: compassion in Public Health rare." Ain't that the truth.


The healthiest option

I sense that few if any readers of this blog are interested in the Food and Drug Administration's decision to seize control of the regulation of e-cigarettes in the United States.

I don't blame you. According to Carl Phillips however it's "the most chatter-inducing event in the history of THR".

Carl, a US-based expert on tobacco harm reduction, has chosen not to add to the hullabaloo. "Been there, wrote that," he says, adding:

Anyone who is shocked by what was released last week was not paying attention. I have seen literally nothing in the deluge of writings since the regulation was released that I and CASAA (and others, of course) did not already point out.

Carl's post (Ecig deeming regulation - nothing new to see here) reminded me of something I wrote in January 2015, a few months after attending the Global Tobacco Network Forum (GTNF) in West Virginia.

The biggest coup was to get Mitch Zeller, director of the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). Reduced harm products presented the CTP with a challenge, he said. They may be less of a risk to the user but their availability might prevent consumers from choosing the healthiest option, complete cessation [my emphasis].

And that, in a nutshell, is what we're up against. Even the more liberal and open-minded public health officials view complete cessation as the long-term goal. Zeller didn't say it but "No safe level of nicotine" is sure to be the mantra for many years to come. Good news for the likes of ASH but bad news for the rest of us (including the taxpayer).

I suspect this explains why so many "pro-vaping" public health groups have kept silent on the FDA's deeming regulation.

The truth, as everyone but the most myopic advocates of THR must surely now acknowledge, is that the goal of 'public health' is not smoking cessation, it's nicotine cessation.

The moving target will always be the "healthiest option" so it doesn't matter if e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful than combustibles, the "healthiest option" will always be "complete cessation".

Vapers seem to hope that if they ally themselves with "pro-vaping" public health campaigners e-cigarettes will be excluded from the worst regulatory excesses. Good luck with that.

The problem is, as soon as you accept punitive regulations for one consumer product you are conceding that, in the name of health, similar regulation is acceptable for other products.

The argument that regulations should reflect relative risk is good in theory but it doesn't apply here because the most powerful 'public health' bodies only see two categories - risk and no risk.

It doesn't matter that e-cigarettes are 'safer' than combustible tobacco. They are not the "healthiest option" and must be regulated accordingly.

One or two governments (including the UK) may prefer light touch regulation on THR products but ultimately they are powerless against the might of unelected 'public health' officials in Brussels (EC), Washington (FDA) and Geneva (WHO).

Btw, the response to the announcement of the FDA deeming regulation also reminded me of the response to MPs voting in favour of a comprehensive smoking ban.

Forest had been campaigning against a public smoking ban for three years. The day after the vote we were overwhelmed with calls and emails from smokers complaining bitterly about the legislation. Nothing like that had happened before.

To paraphrase Carl Phillips, it was the most chatter-inducing event in the history of smokers' rights (in the UK at least), beaten only by a similar outpouring of noise on July 1, 2007, when the legislation was formally introduced.

What we are seeing now is history repeating itself. Vapers are up in arms but why has the FDA announcement come as a surprise? As Carl Phillips says, he and others have been writing about this for years.

Meanwhile the idea that 'public health' is anything other than an enemy of choice and personal freedom is a joke yet some THR advocates cling to the hope that some form of alliance is the best way forward.

If the FDA announcement hasn't put that thought to bed I don't know what will.

PS. A lot of FDA chatter has focused on the impact the deeming regulation will have on the tobacco companies. A good example is this article in the Washington Post, Why the FDA's new e-cigarette regulations are a gift to Big Tobacco.

Returning to that January 2015 post, I also noted that another speaker at GTNF 2014 was Susan Cameron, CEO of Reynolds American, the second largest tobacco company in the United States:

Some vapers should look away now because in her speech Cameron called for the strict regulation of open-system vapour products. In her view, they present a "unique risk" because they are "open to tampering".

It's comments like these that have upset a lot of vapers. Personally I'm against strict regulation but credit to her for going public with her position in such a no-nonsense fashion and not hiding behind Chatham House rules.

Indeed. You may not like it but no-one can say Cameron wasn't being entirely open and honest about her company's position.

How the pro-vaping chatterati failed to notice all this is a bit of a mystery. It's been staring them in the face for years.


Vaper-friendly conference restricts and even prohibits vaping to appease "non-vaping delegates"

I like a challenge so I'm tempted to accept Dick Puddlecote's suggestion that I attend the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw next month.

Read his full post here.

As things stand it's probably the only opportunity I'll have to see A Billion Lives before it goes to DVD (see previous post).

Anyway I've just been on the GFN website and my eye was immediately drawn - I don't know why - to the vaping policy.

I must have a sixth sense for the absurd because this is what I found:

GFN is a vaper friendly conference, actively encouraging participation by consumers and advocates. For various reasons this year we have had to introduce a vaping policy, which we hope will accommodate everyone's needs. The main reasons for this are:

- that some non-vaping delegates last year felt that they were 'trapped' with the vapour, which they found unpleasant and distracting, particularly in the plenary and parallel sessions where there are a lot of people packed into a relatively small space;

- that the Polish government are pushing for indoor usage restrictions - there may be regulators present and we would like them to leave with a positive view of vaping and vapers, and indeed of the conference;

- that since last year the majority of experienced vapers have switched to high powered devices and sub-ohming, which is fine for vape meets but not so good in the conference venue where it tends to create a rather disconcerting fog bank for those who are not used to it.

So who were the "non-vaping delegates" who felt "trapped" by "unpleasant and distracting" vapour?

I'm guessing it was some of those "pro-vaping" public health campaigners. You know, the ones vapers are so keen to join forces with.

Well, they're so "pro-vaping" vaping is now banned in all "plenary and parallel sessions". Furthermore:

You are free to vape in the networking and public areas, but please be discreet and considerate.

Use low powered devices as it helps to keep the amount of vapour created to a minimum.

If you want to blow clouds there will be a terrace available on the same floor as the conference takes place, or please go outside the venue.

In other words, if you must vape please try very very hard not to draw attention to it, ask before you vape near "non-vaping delegates" (they might not like it), and if you insist on using a high powered device – sorry, that's now prohibited indoors but, don't worry, you can use it outside with the smokers.

Some might argue (with some justification) that the organisers are merely using their common sense. But I can't help thinking this is yet another example of how public health campaigners are dictating the agenda on e-cigarettes.

It's clear the hotel hasn't got a policy on vaping otherwise the organisers would have said so and used that as an excuse. Instead, and in order to placate those "non-smoking delegates", the organisers have imposed their own vaping ban.

The hope is that by prohibiting the use of even low powered devices during formal sessions – while driving the use of high powered devices outside – it will give regulators a "positive view of vaping and vapers".

It may work. The problem is they are effectively conceding that in order to achieve that goal vaping has to be banned or severely restricted in enclosed public spaces, while the use of "high-powered" devices must be policed in exactly the same way as smoking.

How on earth are vapers going to argue that vaping should be allowed in pubs and other indoor public places when a conference organised and attended by advocates of e-cigarettes voluntarily imposes its own prohibitive policies because of the "rather disconcerting fog bank for those who are not used to it"?

I'm sure the organisers are doing their best to be socially responsible but by imposing this policy on delegates the implication is that vapers cannot be trusted to be discreet and considerate without a formal "policy".

Meanwhile what happens if someone chooses to ignore the policy? I can think of several delegates who will view it as a challenge but perhaps the fear of being exposed by "some non-vaping delegates" will force them to comply.

Either way it should be interesting.


No UK premiere (yet) for A Billion Lives. Why not?

I've been a bit unkind about the 'pro-vaping' documentary A Billion Lives.

I respect the passion and commitment of director Aaron Biebert but I'm uncomfortable with the way the film is being promoted.

The trailer was a classic example. I won't repeat my objections – you can read them here. Dick Puddlecote had similar reservations.

Perhaps this is what you have to do to get an independent documentary noticed but I much prefer the more nuanced approach of documentary makers like Louis Theroux that leave viewers to make up their own minds.

In contrast the Michael Moore style of film-making leaves me cold. I suspect it's also counter-productive, polarising rather than changing people's opinions.

Anyway I'm not going to judge A Billion Lives until I've seen it. And that's the point of this post. As things stand I may have to wait until it comes out later in the year on DVD. And here's why.

The "world premiere" takes place this Wednesday (May 11) at the DocEdge film festival in New Zealand. So far (literally) so good.

However, according to an email sent out by the producers last Thursday, there won't be a European premiere until mid June and it's not going to be at a film festival nor will it be a standalone event in a major European city like London, Paris or Berlin.

Instead the European premiere of A Billion Lives will take place in Warsaw as part of the Global Forum on Nicotine conference and the audience will be predominantly vaping activists and "pro-vaping" public health campaigners.

Apparently the film includes "many speakers and participants at last year's conference" which is one way to ensure a standing ovation but I'm not sure it lends itself to impartial reviews.

And after Warsaw? Here, in the words of director Aaron Biebert, is a worldwide guide to the current state of play:

United States: "We'll set a date in the US once we've figured out a way to pay for it."

Canada: "Same as above for the US."

Australia: "We are getting closer to a plan for a proper Australian Premiere in July."

Germany: "We have interest from several theaters and distributors. If we keep at this, there will be a wide release throughout all of Germany, possibly Austria and Switzerland too."

Norway: "Growing interest from movie distributors."

France: "We will have a premiere in France, a country that has been so wonderfully supportive." So supportive there is no mention of a date.

Sweden: Conversations are happening, apparently, and the director is "confident that the Swedish people will get a chance to see A Billion Lives."

Last but not least, here's what Biebert has to say about the good 'ole United Kingdom:

We'd really really really like to host a UK premiere soon. Our friends in Scotland did their best to bring the movie to a film festival in Edinburgh, but we just found out the festival wasn't interested in the topic.

Despite having several prominent UK thinkers in the movie, we are not seeing much other interest at this time from the UK. Hopefully that will change soon.

Seriously? No-one has offered to host or support a UK premiere?

I find this incredible and it's not the first time the thought has crossed my mind. Five weeks ago I wrote:

Curiously 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.

Look, if no-one else will do it and Aaron Biebert will work with us, perhaps Forest should host the UK premiere (subject to a few terms and conditions!).

It beggars belief that no-one in the UK vaping community (manufacturers, representative bodies, consumer groups) has stepped forward and offered to host or sponsor a premiere for this unique if possibly flawed documentary.

Compare this to Brexit: The Movie which, by coincidence, also has its premiere on Wednesday.

The premiere will be in London's Leicester Square. There will be a red carpet, paparazzi, flashing lights, celebrities, politicians, and members of the press.

Now that sounds like fun. With a bit of imagination and some financial support A Billion Lives could get the same treatment. It could and should be "an event".

I wish Aaron Biebert well with his film. Anyone who puts so much time and energy into a project like this deserves credit, even if there are concerns about the extent to which it will repeat public health propaganda about smoking while attacking the industry for not doing enough to embrace e-cigarettes.

The United Kingdom is possibly the most liberal country in the world when it comes to e-cigarettes. Time, I think, for the UK vaping 'family' to put its money where its mouth is. And if 'pro-vaping' sponsors won't step forward what about a crowd-funding initiative?

Come on, guys. Stop whinging about TPD and the new FDA regulations for a few days and give Aaron Biebert the support he's clearly crying out for.

Below: How to promote the premiere of a low budget campaign movie. The Brexit Movie premiere looks and feels like a proper cinematic event.

In contrast A Billion Lives ("People are going to die") hardly sounds like a fun night out. There are ways to sell a premiere to a wider audience and I'm not convinced this is one of them.

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