Documentary Urges WHO to Save a Billion Lives by Opening its Eyes to Evidence Supporting Tobacco Harm Reduction

Documentary Urges WHO to Save a Billion Lives by Opening its Eyes to Evidence Supporting Tobacco Harm Reduction


A documentary is urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to save a billion lives by opening its eyes to the strong evidence that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.

“You can’t convince 1.4 billion people to stop smoking simply by giving them a sermon to either quit or die. It’s just not going to happen. A better move is to provide safer—not safe—but safer alternatives to cigarette smoking,” says Dr. Delon Human, former president of the World Medical Association, one of the public health experts featured in the documentary.

Produced by Attention Era Media, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based film production company is behind the 2016 documentary film A Billion Lives. The critically acclaimed and multi-awarded docu-film takes a critical look at the history of smoking and the corruption among governments, big pharmaceutical companies, and public health officials that has led to the current situation where safer, healthier alternatives are banned or heavily restricted in most countries, while the cigarette trade is continually protected.

The WHO wants to strictly regulate or possibly even ban electronic nicotine delivery systems such as e-cigarettes, reasoning that these products contain nicotine and other toxic emissions that pose health risks. Its opposition to new technologies that reduce tobacco-related harm, a policy embodied in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), has received much criticism in light of independent studies supporting e-cigarettes as a much safer alternative to tobacco and an effective aid to quit cigarette smoking.

An expert independent evidence review by Public Health England published in August 2015 concluded that e-cigarettes are around 95 percent less harmful than smoking and that e-cigarettes may be contributing to falling smoking rates among adults and young people in the UK. A new report released in April 2016 by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) concluded that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking and can help smokers quit.

“If you’re a healthcare professional and a patient who wants to quit smoking asks your advice on using e-cigarettes, you can’t say we need to do more research. That’s just not helpful, it’s irresponsible,” Dr. Human says.

Also featured in the documentary is David Sweanor, J.D., former Legal Counsel of Smoking & Health Action Foundation. “The biggest breakthroughs in public health are historically associated with two really simple things. One, you give people enough information so that they can make an informed decision about what they’re going to do. And two, you give them the ability to act on that information.”

The opening scene of “WHO Will Save a Billion Lives?” mentions “one of the most important meetings in public health”, referring to the Seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) being held at Delhi, India from November 7-12, 2016.Considered as the most important global anti-tobacco conference, COP7 will review the implementation of the WHO FCTC and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

“The World Health Organization is at a crossroads,” says Aaron Biebert, Director/Executive Producer of A Billion Lives. “Either they continue what they’ve been doing and become one of the biggest threats to public health in history. Or the WHO can follow their mandate to reduce the harm caused by smoking, embrace the scientific evidence and become a leader in the fight to help save a billion lives that will be lost in this century due to smoking.”