Investigation reveals rampant child labour in tobacco industry in Indonesia, Malawi & Mexico; includes companies' comments

Author: Sarah Boseley, The Guardian, Published on: 25 June 2018

"Child labour rampant in tobacco industry"

Child labour tobacco is rampant and on the increase in poorer countries, a major Guardian investigation can reveal, in spite of claims by multibillion-dollar companies that they are tackling the issue. Evidence from three continents shows how children aged 14 and under are kept out of school and employed in hard and sometimes harmful physical labour to produce the tobacco leaf that fills cigarettes sold internationally, including in the UK, US and mainland EuropeFamilies are trapped in generational poverty while salaries at the top of the industry run to millions of dollars a year. The companies say they monitor child labour and remove children from the fields to go to school, but experts have told the Guardian that the numbers are going up, not down, as tobacco growing increases in Africa and Asia...

...But it is a scandal for which the multinational companies have a direct responsibility, she said. “There is a double burden – the burden of child labour itself and the burden of working on a deadly product that ultimately affects the children themselves.”...BAT and JTI tobacco firms say light work in the fields that does not affect health or education is acceptable for 13-15 year olds...Alliance One said the elimination of child labour is a “top priority”; Universal said it is committed to fighting child labour...PMI called child labour an unacceptable reality. “We are committed to eliminating child labor and other labor abuses wherever we source tobacco,” said Miguel Coleta, the company’s sustainability officer.

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Related companies: Alliance One British American Tobacco JTI Philip Morris International Universal Corporation