Tobacco Farms are Still An Issue

The United States government and tobacco companies are failing to protect teenage children from hazardous work in tobacco farming. Teenage children too young to legally buy a pack of cigarettes are getting exposed to nicotine while they work on US tobacco farms. Tobacco farming in the US puts children at risk of nicotine poisoning, pesticide exposure from toxic chemicals applied to the crop, heat illness, and chronic pain and injuries from performing repetitive motions. Some US-based tobacco companies and growers' groups took action in 2014 to ban employing children under 16 to work in tobacco farming, but excluded older teens from their policies. Teenagers are still vulnerable to the harmful effects of the work. Banning children under 16 from working in tobacco farming is a good first step, but 16- and 17-year-olds are still highly vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and pesticides. They deserve protection too. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of the work because their brains are still developing.Under international law, the US is obligated to take immediate action to eliminate hazardous labor for those under 18, including any work that is likely to harm their health or safety. Tobacco companies, for their part, have a responsibility to work to prevent and eliminate serious human rights problems in their supply chains. The US Department of Labor has acknowledged the risks to children who work in tobacco farming, but has failed to change US regulations to end hazardous child labor in the crop. What would you do if you were the companies? Are you surprised the US has not done anything about this? I for one am. Hopefully they will act soon.

Information based on a report from Amnesty International with Opinions from Raymond Iglesias, Youth Organizer, from Kids Meeting Kids.

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