Myth meets science in documentary on nicotine

This weekend sees the premiere of the film "You don't know nicotine" - a documentary about nicotine and its role in the world. It pits fear and myths against research and uncomfortable truths.
"This is a film about hope, really" says director Aaron Biebert.

It took Aaron Biebert and a team of 30 people over two years to gather material and finalise the documentary "You don't know nicotine". Due to Covid-19, the premiere was postponed. But this weekend, the film will be released on the streaming site Ibex, and it's a long-awaited premiere. Not least because of the debate on nicotine that has flared up in recent years.

"Nicotine is a tough subject. We interviewed over 200 people to build the foundation for the film. And we learnt a lot. What is nicotine, how does it work and what does the research say? We approached the topic from an objective and neutral perspective. We are looking for the truth here, the facts about nicotine. Not hearsay and myths" says the director Aaron Biebert in a live broadcast via Facebook.

A different view of nicotine in Sweden

As Vejpkollen has previously told us about Sweden, which, due to the widespread use of snus, has a slightly different relationship with nicotine compared to the rest of the world. Sweden has an important role in the film, says Aaron Biebert.

"The issue of nicotine's health risks is becoming synonymous with the health risks of smoking in most countries. In Sweden, things have been different, both in terms of research and public policy," says Aaron Biebert.

Uncertainty about nicotine a weapon

"You don't know nicotine" premieres at a time when the debate about nicotine reflects myths, anxiety, money and uncertainty. At the same time, over a billion people use nicotine, daily, in one way or another.

"For some, the debate on nicotine is about spreading and reinforcing myths. Insecurity is used as a kind of weapon. It's really unpleasant. It just ends up that nobody trusts anything and few actually know what it's about." says Aaron Biebert.

Alternative delivery methods are important

And that is worrying, says Aaron Biebert. Especially as nicotine has an important role to play in smoking cessation, for example. Alternative technologies, such as e-cigarettes and snus, can play an important role for today's smokers.

"Many people talk about nicotine in a way that can have devastating consequences. It's often about shaming people who use it. And ultimately, that can have harmful consequences," says Aaron Biebert.

"We want to educate - not fight"

He also stresses that the film is not a weapon in the fight for alternative nicotine products, or anything else.

"For me, the key word in the film is "hope". We are not fighting. We want to educate. The science and research around nicotine is a central part of the film, but it's also a kind of travel documentary. We are travelling all over the world. And ultimately, we want to show that what we know about nicotine doesn't have to be based on uncertainty - but on clear science.

"You don't know nicotine" is streaming 20 to 22 November on Ibex. Reportedly, the film is part of the regular line-up from December.
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