In this CNBC original documentary, Correspondent Brian A. Shactman reports on an industry that continues to thrive despite all we know about the dangers of smoking. 50 million Americans, and nearly a billion people overseas, still light up every day. And as cigarette taxes continue to skyrocket in the United States, driving the price up to as much as $14 per pack, a crime wave is booming , with black market profiteers cheating the U.S. government out of $5 billion in cigarette tax dollars each year.
We follow American tobacco farmers as they endure one of the worst growing seasons in four decades, facing record drought and increased pressure from the anti-tobacco movement. Increasingly marginalized, these growers refuse to give up or give in, trading their overalls for suits and traveling overseas to sell American tobacco in emerging markets. Their efforts, and those of the tobacco industry, to sell their product in places like China, India, and Eastern Europe, have prompted accusations that they are exporting a public health crisis.