Doccie cuts through tobacco propaganda smokescreen

16 September 2016 - 09:38 By KATHARINE CHILD


What if you knew of a way to save a billion people's lives but kept it quiet? This is what American filmmaker Aaron Biebert suggests doctors, scientists, drug companies and governments are doing by refusing to market and promote e-cigarettes.His award-winning documentary, A Billion Lives, screens at the Jozi Film Festival this weekend.The film, which took a year to produce, argues that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking.The film examines the vested interests of drug firms that sell nicotine patches, governments that earn a fortune off taxes from tobacco consumption and cigarette companies that suppress the results of research on the health benefits of e-cigarettes.Biebert believes there are a number of confusing stories in the media about electronic cigarettes, including claims that e-cigarette flavours cause "popcorn" lung."If everyone would stop lying about them more people would use them, which would lower costs. All of these lies are hurting people's ability to quit smoking," said Biebert.African doctor Dellon Human, who is based in Switzerland and is an adviser to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, is interviewed in the film.He explains e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes as they don't contain cancer-causing tobacco and they help people quit smoking.Human said countries earned so much in taxes from cigarettes that they would face a fiscal crisis if smoking rates dropped too low.After A Billion Lives showed in New Zealand the government there said it would investigate lifting the ban on e-cigarette sales, claims Biebert."Mark my words cigarettes are going to go away and e-cigarettes are the reason," the filmmaker said.

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