Documentary ‘A Billion Lives’ slams Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, and the FDA
On May 16, 2016, Director Aaron Biebert ‘s documentary entitled “A Billion Lives: A True Story of Government Failure, Big Business, and the Vaping Revolution” opened to generally positive reviews. Premiering to a packed house at the Annual Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw, the film is not just for advocates of e-cigs and vaping technology. Anyone who loves a good crime story, mystery drama, or conspiracy theory will probably find the documentary extremely enjoyable.
The film gets its title from a controversial 2012 article by Oxford University’s Sir Richard Peto where he estimates over one billion lives will be lost in the 21st Century due to smoking related cancer and other illnesses. Peto also went on to make more detailed estimations of the life expectancy rates of certain groups of smokers.
For example, he estimates that only 58% of men who continuously smoke throughout their lives will make it to age 70 while 81% of non-smokers will make it to this age range without difficulty. He also estimates that if a man quits smoking by the age of 50, he can reduce this loss of life expectancy by half. If he quits by 35, there should be very little repercussions whatsoever.
But the more intriguing storyline of the A Billion Lives Documentary focuses on the relationship between Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, and Big Government. In the film, Director Aaron Biebert states,
“The media many times believes whatever they are told by a doctor, so there are tons of ignorant comments by doctors in articles and videos all over the internet”. He went on to say that Big Pharma spends “nearly $24 Billion each year on marketing to doctors and sponsoring big charities like the American Cancer Society, which openly calls for vaping taxes to be equal to cigarettes to discourage people from switching to vaping”.
Biebert doesn’t stop with Big Pharma. When it comes to U.S. politicians, he clearly believes that “it’s all about the money.” He essentially accuses government leaders of selling their votes for proposed legislation to the highest bidder, whether it is for FDA e-cig regulations or legislation targeting gun control. But Beibert isn’t entirely opposed to federal regulation of some kind. He specifically outlines certain areas where he believes it is appropriate. For a well-written and professional executed documentary that covers all the bases, A Billion Lives is definitely worth watching.