“A Billion Lives” is a documentary film by Aaron Biebert. At its core, A Billion Lives is a film about the dangers of smoking, the alternatives to smoking (namely vaping and the use of e-cigarettes) and the corruption that restrains these alternatives from becoming more readily available and generally accepted. The vaping community has been eagerly awaiting this film for several reasons. One of the most notable reasons being that the film looks as though it may finally present vaping in a good light. Unfortunately, it seems a common trend in the media at the minute to portray vaping as something as dangerous as smoking itself. This film looks to change that through its intricate use of statistics, interviews, facts and figures.
The Main Issue
The very first image that is presented to the audience is a blank screen with black text over it that says, “This century a billion people are projected to die from smoking”. This line is what inspired Biebert to create this film and it is a line that makes a sudden impact that lasts for the whole duration of the film. The first section of the film is then dedicated to describing the history of the cigarette industry and the lengths that they go to in order to hide their product’s associated risks. Biebert does an incredible job of summarising and emphasising the sheer scale of this issue, making sure to not hold back any emotional punches.
The Following section of the film focuses on the use of e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco smoking. This section is what all those in the vaping community where looking for, it artistically and masterfully explains how vaping, if fully encouraged, can actually save those billion lives. Biebert uses a wide range of trusted and professional sources for his interviews including the former tobacco control chief of the WHO (World Health Organisation), Dr. Derek Yach, as well as the former World Medical Association president, Dr. Delon Human. The arguments made by these professional spokespersons are incredibly engaging, well thought-out and are sure to turn a few heads in the more casual audience.
The Root Problem
After Biebert takes the time to explore the world of vaping and defends it well using reliable and professional sources, his film then turns to the darker side of the industry. This section of the film explores the reasons why vaping is not being endorsed by larger companies. Biebert talks about his utter confusion over why a government or industry would try to silence the advocates for the use of e-cigarettes when they can actually end up saving lives in the long run. He answers this in a brutally honest, yet incredibly depressing way. His answer is that money is the main reason why this occurs.
Biebert investigates the real villains of this film, and the industry; pharmaceutical companies. A very brutally honest interview with Dr. Yach explains that pharmaceutical companies do not wish to encourage the use of e-cigarettes because they benefit greatly from the sales of products that replace nicotine such as quit-smoking patches.
If you’ve been an advocate for vaping or have been avidly following the ongoing debate behind its usage, then this documentary will not surprise you. Instead, it adds a deeper layer of statistics, details and facts to your bare bones of knowledge. The interviews within this film are some of the most eloquent and well-delivered ones I have seen. Even if you’re not learning anything new, you’re creating a database of facts to reinforce your initial points. This film is well worth the watch.