When Aaron Biebert decided to advertise his upcoming film on Facebook, he never imagined that it would be banned. The documentary called “A Billion Lives” is set to hit theaters in 2016 and it will focus on how ecigarettes could potentially help smokers find freedom from tobacco use. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco related diseases could lead to a billion deaths this century.
Initially Facebook censored the ads and notified Biebert that they violated advertising rules. “Your ad was rejected because it doesn’t follow the ad guidelines. Ads may not promote tobacco or tobacco-related products, including e-cigarettes.”
Despite the initial setback, Biebert wasn’t content to let the censorship slide by unnoticed. He reached out to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a letter, hoping to raise awareness for his film’s goals. “We are making a film to help people discover what’s going on in the world,” he wrote. “We’re trying to use Facebook to make the world more open, to stay connected, and to give people the power to share what matters most to them… a way to save the lives of their families, friends, and themselves.”
Biebert insisted that his film was not encouraging people to use tobacco products. In fact, it was aimed at helping smoker’s find a way of escape. “You call our film a tobacco product, yet we are trying to help people quit,” Biebert argued. “You promise to make the world more open, but you are closing it off.”
On Friday, Biebert announced that Facebook had officially reversed the decision to ban the film’s ads. It’s a major victory for vaping and undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Hopefully this issue will draw awareness to the fact that ecigarettes are not tobacco products. Instead, they are products created as an alternative for smokers who can’t seem to stop using tobacco through traditional cessation attempts.
Do you think it’s unfair for Facebook to refuse ads for e-cigarettes? Should ecigs be treated as tobacco products in advertising guidelines?