CNBC ORIGINAL TAKES VIEWERS INSIDE THE GLOBAL BATTLE OVER TOBACCO
One-Hour Documentary Reported by CNBC’s
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., February 17, 2011—On Wednesday, March 2nd at 9PM ET/PT, CNBC presents “Cigarette Wars,” a CNBC Original that goes inside the business of tobacco, America’s original cash crop—exploring the companies that sell it, the people who smoke it, the elected officials trying to get rid of it, the federal law enforcement agencies fighting it on the black market and the Kentucky farmers who grow it.
CNBC Correspondent Brian Shactman travels the globe from the lush Kentucky tobacco fields to historic Market Square in Krakow, Poland—a nation with smoking rates double those in the U.S.—for an in-depth look at the $60 billion industry that continues to thrive despite the known dangers of smoking. With 50 million Americans and nearly a billion people overseas still lighting up every day, the global battle over this lucrative crop continues to intensify.
As cigarette taxes continue to rise in the U.S., a crime wave, driven by the sales of contraband cigarettes, is booming. Each year, the U.S. is cheated out of $5 billion in cigarette taxes; overseas, the lost tax revenue amounts to $100 billion. The money made by these criminals—considered by many law enforcement officials to be better organized than drug dealers and gun runners—goes toward funding more heinous crimes like human trafficking, prostitution and murder. Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms continue to confront increasingly sophisticated and profitable cigarette smuggling operations. Shactman accompanies ATF joint task-force units in Virginia and Washington, DC as they hunt down these criminals in what ATF calls “the new prohibition era.”
Shactman also follows the dying breed of American tobacco growers, including eighth generation Kentucky farmer Brian Furnish, as he endures one of the worst growing seasons in four decades. It's a perfect storm: record drought, falling tobacco prices, and increased pressure from the anti-tobacco movement. Vilified and marginalized, Furnish refuses to give up or give in. He trades in his overalls for a suit and travels outside the U.S. to sell American tobacco in emerging markets like China, India, and Eastern Europe—prompting accusations that he and his fellow growers, along with the tobacco industry as a whole, are exporting a public health crisis.
Shactman interviews one of the most ardent anti-smoking activists in the country, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has little sympathy for the American tobacco grower. He also sits down with Stanton Glantz, a longtime public health advocate and nemesis of the tobacco industry, who takes both Hollywood and tobacco companies to task for undermining efforts aimed at decreasing smoking among young people.
For more information including slideshows and web extras log onto: cigarettewars.cnbc.com.
Mitch Weitzner is the Senior Executive Producer of “Cigarette Wars.” Jeff Pohlman is Senior Producer. Ray Borelli is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Research, Scheduling and Long Form Programming.
CNBC’s “Cigarette Wars” will re-air on March 2nd at 10PM ET/PT and Sunday, March 6th at 10PM ET.
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