Guest Post: A Billion Lives

Guest Post: A Billion Lives

As the title says, this is a guest post written by Shannon Sparkles with some input from me, however the bulk of what follows originates from Shannon.

I’m really sad that I feel the need to write this, but it needs to be done.

When the team behind “A Billion Lives” posted the film’s new teaser Friday morning, I was elated. I was finally able to get a glimpse into the work that is sure to change the world.

Unfortunately, there was immediate criticism over some figures used in the footage, and the sniper shots began to ring out.

There are a few things I’d like to address in this post, but let’s start with the statistic that “165,000 children die from secondhand smoke every year.” Aaron and his team got that number from a variety of media sources, all citing the World Health Organization. The main source for the WHO statistics originated from a paper published in The Lancet. These are sources that we have been told to trust. As vapers, we know not to trust them, or at least treat everything from them with a level of suspicion. However, the Billion Lives team has stepped into new waters with this project. Yes, we are guiding them along the way, but that statistic isn’t what matters in this film. What matters is that we have been lied to. “A Billion Lives” is about the lies we have been fed, and that’s what we need to remain focused on.

I was shocked when I received the notification for this tweet from A Billion Lives:

This started out with a tweet on whether or not the video was confusing, which led to my reply “someone really said that to you??? I just heard my brain explode. The antifreeze argument has been parroted a billion times.

Following on from that someone proposed putting the word “LIE” across the screen whenever there was a known lie being told. Seriously? Do people really need to be coddled so much that they need to be told in large letters that what they are listening to is a LIE?

Does the title of the teaser video not say “You are being lied to”?

It seems that being involved in this for so long, we can all get a little edgy, after all we’ve been the target both as smokers and now as vapers. It does make me wonder how Aaron and his team feel after all they’ve worked on.

Finally (and most importantly, in my humble opinion), nobody taking shots at Aaron and his team seems to remember that this film would not be happening at all if it weren’t for them. They have spent weeks away from their families collecting footage and taping interviews, and working endless hours editing and promoting the film (not to mention the debacle with Farcebook treating their advertisements as “tobacco”). We owe them everything. Have you ever stopped to consider that after some of the things that have been said, the ABL team might be starting to wonder why they did this to begin with? If there is even a flicker of doubt in their hearts, this film won’t succeed. We have to make sure there is no reason for them to doubt, and feed them constant words of encouragement.

Below is my personal message to Aaron and his team.

Aaron, I’m so sorry for everything that has been said the past few days. I know that the small words of one won’t make up for the cruel words of many, but I want to try.

You all really have no idea how much this film and all of you mean to me. The world needs to see the truth, and you are the ones brave enough to tell it. I have so much respect for you all, and I am begging you to please keep your heads up. Your film is going to be a masterpiece and will be sure to find a solid place in changing the world. I am one of #ABillionLives, and I will stand with you until the end.

~Shannon Sparkles


Everything above that line is predominantly from Shannon, I will now add some of my own thoughts.

I’ve watched the teaser trailer countless times since it was released, and yes while including the statistic was probably not the best idea I take a slightly different view in that the context of when the statistic is included in the trailer suggests to me (viewing as a non-vaper, non-smoker general public type person) that the statistic used by the tobacco control / public health industries is, in and of itself a lie. After all, isn’t that what the entire film is about? How we have been lied to both as smokers and now as vapers?

Now that it’s all been resolved, can we now give Aaron and his team our full support, after all as Shannon rightly said, without Aaron and his team this movie would not happen.