The Big Vape Broken Netflix documentary is probably the first of what you could call mainstream documentaries taking a look at the world of vaping.

We have of course had the awesome and multi-award winning A Billion Lives – which I reviewed – and I guess director Aaron Biebert might be a bit miffed I’m not classing that as mainstream.

netflix broken big vape review

However, to some extent that was an independent film backed up by a lot of donations from the vape community – as is, I understand, the soon to be released and much anticipated follow up.

By appearing on Netflix and as part of the trio of documentaries under the Broken banner, then Big Vape is most definitely mainstream.

OK, so what did I make of it?

Big Vape Broken – The Mean Girls

First of all, I need to get in, like, character.

I, like, mean, like, I need to like rip on my JUUL ya know, like take a few rips…nothing better than ripping on, like, my JUUL…like.

Best read in, like, a cutesy American teen girl cheer-leader type accent…allegedly.

Before I go on, I’d just like to say I’ve never dressed as a cheerleader – nor felt the need to.

[the gentleman doth protesteth too much!]

mean girls big vape
screen shot via netflix

And come to that…the buzz word [no nic pun intended lol] was JUULing…now it appears that you ‘rip‘ on a JUUl known as ‘ripping‘…wonder if that’ll make the Oxford English Dictionary next year…

And yeah…I don’t know if these popular girls are mean…they’re probably extremely popular and sweet…just a phrase to set the scene 😉

OK on with the review of Big Vape…if you can get the thought of me in a cheer-leading outfit out of your minds…eewww!!!

For the first few minutes I thought I’d stumbled on some Mean Girls spin-off high school drama!

You know the sort I mean, the popular girls are always oh so mean to those not, like, wearing the right clothes etc etc…

NOT I hasten to add, that I’ve watched any of that genre – honest lol – but you catch my drift.

We seemed to have endless close-ups of like, girls getting ready to like, go out, fixing their, like, hair and er, like ripping on their JUULs.

Kind of, like, Glee with vapour instead of sickly syrupy songs coming out of their mouths 😉

Big Vape Netflix Broken Review – The Creepy Guys

The creepy looking school principal – perfect casting might I add for the Mean Girls genre – pops up every now and then, spreading doom, gloom and fear – what’s new.

He really does seem to have a deep fixation about toilets, spouting off about finding ‘boys and girls’ camping out in the bathroom, to I assume, ‘rip on a JUUL‘ at every opportunity they get.

head teacher big vape
screen shot via netflix

In my days school toilets were places we’d have competitions to see who could rip the best fart – known as the ripper game.

Technology has moved on and the kids today seem to leave the smell of creme and mango in the bathrooms rather than what eye crunching aromas we naughty boys used to leave behind lol.

The aforementioned school principal – Fran Thompson – who might I add is straight out of central casting – at one point shows off the confiscated vape products – not many considering the size of the school – but I digress.

The creepy factor goes up a considerable notch with rabid anti-vape and president of the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids, Mathew Myers cropping up throughout the documentary.

He kind of lets the viscous narrative – sorry I meant BS – of the Bloomberg funded soccer-mom anti-vape brigade down when he accepts e-cigarettes have a place within harm reduction.

matthew myers big vape
screenshot via netflix

Sadly that lasted a couple of seconds before he explained he meant e-cigarettes should be used in “controlled environments” and only issued by doctors and nurses!

Explain how that would work and be funded.

The creepy duo are the doom and gloom merchants of the film – the white hats to those anti vapers and the black hats to the pro vapers – perfect made for TV matinee fodder.

OH…speaking of matinees…and some might say creepy guys…others might need a ‘swoon trigger warning‘…

My old friend Scott Mafia Don Wannabe Matinee Idol Gottlieb makes a cameo appearance with a ‘tough talking’ close up that I’m sure will have the screeching anti-vape soccer-moms feeling a hot flush come on.

Christ that guy annoys the shit out of me.

He brings nothing to the movie, apart from I guess getting his adoring soccer-moms fans moist.

Big Vape Netflix Broken review Gottlieb Mafia Don Pose

Whether he likes it or not – he is irrelevant to the vaping argument – until that is Pfizer brings out a nicotine/vape device or new mind altering stop vaping drug for kids…watch this space 😉

JUUL – Hon Lik – Science Stuff and IQOS

JUUL features heavily in the documentary and carries the mantle of being the overall movie bad guy…

BOOO! Goes the crowd from either side of the great vape debate when the name that shall not be mentioned is er mentioned.

The vape giant’s co-founder Adam Bowen, sadly doesn’t shout Fee Fi Foo Fum I smell the blood of vaping profits every chance he gets – you missed a trick there mate – it might have made you a little more endearing.

Big Vape Netflix Broken review Adam Bowen juul

OR, more likely, got the anti-vape brigade spitting venom at how dare JUUL use the giant’s catchphrase lines from a children’s pantomime classic – Jack and the Beanstalk.

Oh no they didn’t! or in JUUL’s case your profits are behind you!

You need to know panto to get those lines lol…oh no you don’t!


The vape industry does that you know – use kid style stuff to drag them in like the Pied Pipers of nicotine town…apparently…

OK, enough about JUUL.

Science Stuff and IQOS

Fade in [I know how to write a screenplay lol] to Phillip Morris’ research centre – I assume in their James Bond villan style bad guy lair deep in the heart of Switzerland.

BTW I did have an invite to go there 2 summers ago – sadly I had to cancel due to my father dying – didn’t get any sympathy from them at the time or afterwards…just sayin’.

And, to set the record straight, it was NOT because I feared being thrown into a tank of man-eating piranhas given the bad press I’d given the company…probably!

To be honest the dude they were interviewing about IQOS bored me a little and I began picking popcorn from my lap – popcorn as in snack and NOT the popcorn as in lung 😉

big vape iqos vaper expo

IQOS safe…blah…blah…blah…stringent testing…blah…blah…blah…

The narrator – sexy voice girl Jenise Morgan – had a bit of dig when the IQOS guy said they were still selling lit tobacco ‘because everyone else was‘ and at least PMI was pumping profits into e-cigarettes.

A tiny fraction said sexy voice girl, adding a few more numbers that I missed [popcorn re-fill].

So yeah – IQOS is in it and they’re owned by Big Tobacco and the subsidiary has a stake in JUUL – Big Tobacco and Big Vaping collaboration is very bad kind of angle.

Hon Lik

The inventor of the e-cigarette – yeah I know we had one in the 1800’s – read my article A Brief History of Vaping – but he’s the modern day father of the e-cigarette.

He really is a gentle soul and a lovely man to boot.

Terry Walker and Hon LIk
Big Vape Netflix Broken review Hon Lik and Terry Walker

Sadly sexy narrator girl didn’t ask him the obvious question – what does he make of the vape scene and all the political ramifications today?

That’s an answer I really must get one day.

Lovely man and we smokers now vapers owe that guy a lot – in many cases our lives.

And apart from chatting with some dude from the vape industry attending the Las Vegas Vaper Expo – that really was about it.

They did stick a few token words about the THC crisis just before the credits – so there is that – but who reads the credits!

The UK Health Professionals To the Rescue!

In any good movie, and right at the end when all seems lost, the cavalry or good guys arrive to save the day.

That’s the case with Big Vape in the guise of Martin @SwitchFinder Dockrell from Public Health England and Louise Ross who I’ll definitely come to in a moment..

Big Vape Netflix Broken review martin dockrell phe
screen shot via netflix

Like the steely eyed heroes in the movies, and with a twinkle in his eye, Martin surveys the devastation reaped by anti-vape governments and organizations across the world and smiles at good old ‘Blighty and our stance on vaping:

When you see somebody vaping, you either see a nicotine addict getting their fix, or you see a smoker who isn’t smoking.

I’ve worked in public health for thirty years – it makes my heart sing every time I see a smoker not smoking.

I could almost hear Jerusalem being belted out with photo overlays of green and pleasant lands *sniffs*

And finally to my heroine of the film – cometh the hour cometh the lady!

Louise @grannylouisa Ross is the Vice Chair of the New Nicotine Alliance.

For many years she worked at the pioneering Stop Smoking Service in Leicester UK – the first might I add to give free e-cigarettes to help smokers quit.

 Big Vape Netflix Broken review louise ross nna vice chair
screen shot via netflix

She tells how at first she was a vape skeptic, but soon embraced it and the rest as they say is history:

The more I found out about vaping and e-cigarettes, the more I realized that my fears were unfounded – that actually this was going to be a hugely beneficial way of helping people to stop smoking.

I think that there are some people that, no matter how strong the evidence, will always find a reason not to encourage people to vape.

They’re very averse to the idea of recreational nicotine.

You know, at the end of this day, are you likely to go home and open a bottle of wine or pour yourself a beer or have a strong coffee?

People are realizing that they’ve got their own vices – and I think there’s something deeply moralistic about this distaste for nicotine.

I say to advisors in stop smoking services, ‘we are a stop smoking service, we’re not a stop nicotine service’.

Wow! Absolutely spot on!

Somebody PLEASE tell the Queen to put this lady on the Honours List!

Netflix Broken Big Vape Final Thoughts

I’m a real documentary addict and was hoping for something a little more punchy and hard hitting from Big Vape Netflix Broken.

Sure it was balanced with both sides of the story, but the problem with too well balanced articles or films is they become almost a puff piece – trying not to offend or stand on any side of the argument.

Sure I know journalism is supposed to be un-biased, but for me this one was just a bit tepid on the issues.

Though I did come away with one burning issue and that is teenagers.

How this age-group can pretty much hold a life-saving invention like the e-cigarette to ransom over the heads of adult smokers desperate to quit baffles me.

I’d love to know where these smug little sods get the cash from to feed their ‘JUUL addictions’ – where the f**k are the parents?

Why should spoiled rotten little Timmy or Tina hold the power over a life-saving billion dollar industry?

Another question/angle I would have asked.

To be honest, I’m not sure what anyone with no knowledge whatsoever of vaping would make of Big Vape the movie, let’s put it that way.

It was all a bit JUUL over-kill too – there’s much more to vaping than those sell-outs oops I meant vape company.

Not a bad watch I guess and at least they didn’t shaft vaping like some industry insiders I could mention.

If you’re looking for a hard hitting John Pilger type investigative documentary on vaping, this one ain’t for you, but it will pass a reasonably, like, pleasant hour.

  • IMBD Rating: 7.5/10
  • My rating: 6/10
neil Humber 2
Neil Humber

I have simpler vape tastes these days - I never leave home without a Caliburn G, a Vaporesso Luxe 40 or Innokin EQ FLTR and a CBD vape pen or bottle of CBD drops in my rucksack...or indeed an Aspire Nautilus Prime X in my pocket... At home I'll be using various mods topped with the GeekVape Zeus X RTA or the Signature Mods Mono SQ topped with the Augvape BTFC RDA... I'm a former journalist and now a writer and sometimes author... I'm ex Army - adore dogs and never happier than hiking over the hills or with a good book on a beach.

I have simpler vape tastes these days - I never leave home without a Caliburn G, a Vaporesso Luxe 40 or Innokin EQ FLTR and a CBD vape pen or bottle of CBD drops in my rucksack...or indeed an Aspire Nautilus Prime X in my pocket... At home I'll be using various mods topped with the GeekVape Zeus X RTA or the Signature Mods Mono SQ topped with the Augvape BTFC RDA... I'm a former journalist and now a writer and sometimes author... I'm ex Army - adore dogs and never happier than hiking over the hills or with a good book on a beach.


  1. This documentary was sorely lacking in valid scientific info. Your protagonists in the UK encouraging sheeple to drop the cig for the e alternative might be marginally helping adults reduce some toxins but lets be honest; we don’t have enough long term data about the substances in your vaping products to indicate they are any less harmful than in tobacco equivalents.


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