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“We hope people aren’t that cheap” say A Billion Lives team, as UK ticket sales disappoint

British vaping advocates have joined the team behind award-winning documentary A Billion Lives in expressing their disappointment at weak ticket sales. The film is being promoted in Britain through Demand Film; over a dozen screenings were originally scheduled, but they’ll only go ahead if enough tickets are sold – and so far only one, in Glasgow, has reached the target. Others have already run up against the sales deadline and been cancelled, including Manchester. Astonishingly, London – which probably contains more vapers than any other city on Earth – hasn’t generated enough interest to get a single showing confirmed.

An aggressive minority have been complaining about having to pay to see the film, demanding that it’s released free on YouTube so they can save the cost of a cinema ticket. This has attracted widespread condemnation from advocates, who’ve pointed out that the complainers are effectively demanding the production team work for nothing.

Some vape shops have begun buying multiple tickets in an attempt to confirm viewings in their area, but overall the response from vendors is almost as disappointing as from consumers – remarkable, considering how popular vaping is in the UK. Some advocates believe the country’s relatively liberal laws have persuaded vapers they don’t need to make an effort; more cynical ones say that many just aren’t interested unless there’s free stuff on offer.

[Editor’s note: An active debate has taken place on social medias when this article got released. The author therefore clarified a particular point on Twitter :]

Medical journal backs down after vaping expert challenges claims

Chest, one of the leading medical journals on chest diseases, was forced into a humiliating retraction on Wednesday, after cardiologist Konstantinos Farsalinos challenged false claims in a recent article. The journal had claimed to have found a case of bronchiolitis obliterans (“popcorn lung”) in a 60-year-old vaper, and speculated that diacetyl-containing liquids were a possible cause.

Investigation by Farsalinos soon found that the patient had in fact been diagnosed with a completely different, and much less serious, condition called acute hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This is basically an allergic reaction caused by inhaling a substance the victim is hypersensitive to. The journal changed the title and posted a clarification, but the article continues to state that diacetyl is a suspect. In fact diacetyl has never been linked to this condition, and while it’s a possible cause there’s no evidence to support this. As Farsalinos pointed out, there’s no evidence that vaping was actually linked to the condition at all.

UK Trading Standards raids five vape shops

The BBC has reported that Trading Standards officers on Merseyside have seized illegal e-liquids from five local vape shops. The seizures were not connected to the EU’s much-criticised Tobacco Products Directive, but related to offences under British law. A council spokesman explained that the liquid bottles were contained in packaging designed to resemble food – McDonalds apple pie, ice cream cones and tubs, and cakes – which is illegal under the 1989 Food Imitations Safety Regulation. According to the spokesman some of the bottles also lacked the required safety labelling.

The reaction from vapers was generally in favour of the seizures; the use of this kind of branding has attracted increasing criticism in recent months. As well as being illegal it’s also a gift to those who claim the industry is marketing to children.

California tax debate gets heated

Rhetoric is being dialled up in the debate over California’s controversial Proposition 56 tax hike, which state residents will vote on next month. The main goal of Prop 56 is to increase tax on cigarettes from 87 cents to $2.87 per pack, but the tax rise will also be applied to other tobacco products – and to any e-liquid that contains nicotine.

Supporters of the tax are complaining that the tobacco companies are fighting it, which they certainly are – PMI, RJ Reynolds and Altria have contributed more than $65 million to fight the law – but they’re far from the only opponents. The Sacramento Taxpayers Association has condemned the proposal, labelling it “a special interest money grab”. This is a worrying, and probably accurate, assessment. Prop 56 is being presented to the public as a simple tax increase, but the money it raises will go into a special fund. This fund will be exempt from California’s usual tax rules, which mandate minimum percentages that have to be spent on education and other essential services. Instead, most of the Prop 56 money will be divided up among the groups that are supporting the tax, with MediCal being the biggest winner.

  • Vicky Caramel

    This article has irked me.
    Firstly, this movie has been touted (hyped) for so long, I have now lost all interest, as I keep up to date on all the vaping news I am pretty sure my knowledge is more up to date than anything this movie could teach me.
    I thought maybe it would be released for free on Youtube so that I could use it as a tool, much like the Brexit videos were. But it isn’t, so what use is it? It isn’t us vapers that need to see it, preaching to the choir would be a waste of time and I have no intention of paying to be preached to.

    I would have wished the movie makers all the best in making their money back even though this movie does little to help me as a vaper… but as they think I’m cheap, fuck them. It seems they are more interested in making a buck than helping vapers.

    • castello

      We need to have exposure to the media before it will even be seen by non vapers. Vapers, vendors and reviewers need to do the promotion. You haven’t been paying much attention to the campaign.

  • Matt GF

    If this film was released on DVD it would be a different story. I think Vapers would be more inclined to buy it on DVD because then they can share and make other people watch the documentary that wouldn’t go and watch it at the cinema.

    More importantly, this film needs to be watched by non-vapers rather than those who vape because it will enlighten them on an issue they have probably never thought existed. Politicians, Doctors, Pharmacies, Journalists etc should be watching this documentary not necessarily vapers.

    • castello

      They need the publicity before non vapers will go watch this.

  • Mad Dragon

    Shops and consumers should have purchased tickets all across the country and then handed said tickets to healthcare professionals and politicians, so that they could see the movie. This movie wasn’t made for the vaping community, but to bring awareness to this issue to the masses who are blind to the products. If you have the masses on your side, and public opinion is in favor, then the fight is that much better when it comes to politicians trying to crush it.

  • Glen Appleton

    As it was explained to me (and it makes sense), you need theatrical releases first so it can get the media attention and reviews to help spread the word. This film isn’t for vapers (we already know the story). It’s for everyone else who thinks vaping is something that big tobacco invented to keep their own customers “hooked” on a “deadly” product. The media coverage of the premiers in each city will spread awareness much faster and more thoroughly than a YouTube video on the conspiracy YouTube channel.

    We need to support the theatrical release of this film this year, and then we can enjoy it on DVD or NetFlix next year.

  • Nick Loved Up Morris

    It would actually be a great idea to release via sky, now TV or similar as a pay per view. 1) The cinima’s listed are really inconvenient for us to attend though we really would like to. 2) Having to confirm in advance when busy with our own lives is not easy. We don’t have a billion things going on but certainly enough to make it difficult. 3) Viewing at our leisure would make it a 100% confirmed view.

    • castello

      It needs publicity before non vapers will pay to see it. Follow and help the campaign by sharing it!

  • Enough with the ‘Stingy vapers’ already, let’s hear something from the stingy multi-millionaire industry players that got that way from all us ‘stingy vapers’ in the first place. How many of the manufacturers and distributors in Shenzen are supporting any kind of CSR budget. My guess, given that they’re all controlled by their disgusting communist government, is precisely zero. As Vicky says, this article has irked me, in my own case it has irked the shit out of me.

  • Dean Joynson

    Stingy vapers? I don’t think so… off the top of my head in the last 24months I know that between two vape groups over £85,000 has been raised for charity. TWO groups!!!!
    Vapes aren’t Stingy, the problem is we already know the story….
    This film should be for non vapers to see the truth behind the media’s lies, and they aren’t going to go out to the cinema and choose to watch this over the latest blockbuster now are they.
    Should have released this on mainstream TV, netflix, virgin,sky, whatever – then followed up with making it available on YouTube and profiting from the ads etc like everybody else does.
    You can’t blame vapers for your film about vaping not being marketed correctly.

    • castello

      TV wouldn’t take it. If you had been following it at all, he is marketing it properly but he needs help from the vapers and vendors. We can blame reviewers, vendors and consumers.

  • dansus

    Apathy in the UK? Never..

  • Shantiya04

    The claim has been chosen by the author of the article, not by the movie maker nor his team ! I would appreciate that to be clarified, even modified in the article. If the purpose is to make a buzz or to get additional audience, I don’t suscribe to this way of doing things.

  • Lene Marie Poppe Thorsen

    Sadly for me to see this film it would require a 4 hour trip each way and staying over in a hotel. That’s too rich for me to simply see a movie on topics and proof I’m already aware of. I’m waiting for the DVD at which point I’ll spend the money to obtain it.

  • melawyth

    You know, with the amount of money vapers are saving through not buying cigarettes at their horrific prices, I would think that in sheer gratitude they would cheerfully pay for tickets to “A Billion Lives”. Leave the greed and small-mindedness to the pharmaceutical companies and the governments whom this film shows in all their corruption.

  • I haven’t been to the cinema in years. Not only is it a load of hassle and stress getting to and from the cinema, but vaping is prohibited on the Underground.

    Add to that the fact the cinema chains have banned vaping, and their employees defame customers by calling the police on them for the chance of a financial reward from FACT, and that cinemas are overpriced and have uncomfortable seating, and that even with those prices they use unskippable ads, there is a reason why I wait for things to be available on Prime Instant Video or LoveFilm. Because of how rarely I go to the cinema these days I didn’t even bother renewing my CEA card.

    Even when I was a regular movie goer I only went for blockbuster movies because anything else on a large screen was not worth the hassle and stress of travel and the restrictions on what is permitted in a cinema. If I’m watching a documentary I want to be able to use Google to verify what I am being fed, and in a cinema you’re likely to be arrested for verifying claims made.

  • Geo Thermal

    I’d pay $5 to watch it online. I’m sure a million others would, too.