USA: Children working on tobacco farms suffer from nicotine poisoning, Human Rights Watch report - includes video

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Article
14 May 2014

Cigarette makers can't market to kids. Why do tobacco farms employ them? [USA]

Author: Margaret Wurth, Human Rights Watch

Some companies…allow for lower standards of protection for children in their US supply chain than for those elsewhere…[While] the US has laws to protect kids from the harms of nicotine in cigarettes, there are no restrictions to protect them from nicotine exposure in tobacco fields…Under US law, children are not permitted to work until they are at least 14, and there are strict limits…except in one industry: farm work…The worlds largest tobacco companies purchase tobacco grown in the United States – companies like Altria…, British American Tobacco, China National Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco..., Japan Tobacco..., Lorillard [part of Carolina Group], Philip Morris International and Reynolds American. Most of those tobacco companies…are concerned about child labor in their supply chains…But their current approaches do not sufficiently protect children…[Some] companies allow for lower standards of protection for children in their US supply chain than for children working on tobacco farms in other countries…

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Article
14 May 2014

Report slams child labor in tobacco fields [USA]

Author: Mariano Castillo, CNN (USA)

...[Children] suffer the effects of nicotine exposure as they labor in U.S. tobacco fields. There is not an exact figure for how many children work in America's tobacco fields, but Human Rights Watch interviewed nearly 150 [children]...Nearly 75%...interviewed reported...symptoms -- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headaches, dizziness, irritation and difficulty breathing. These are symptoms of acute nicotine poisoning...Exposure to pesticides from adjacent fields and accidents with sharp tools are also common...Altria, one of the biggest cigarette makers, did not immediately comment on the report when contacted by CNN. The study focused on…North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia...Children can legally work in the tobacco fields…These children primarily work during the summer to help support their families. The majority of them were Hispanic children of immigrants who lived in nearby towns…

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Article
14 May 2014

Young Children Are Getting Sick Working on U.S. Tobacco Farms

Author: Charlie Campbell, Time (USA)

A new Human Rights Watch report finds that child laborers, some as young as 7 years old, who work on tobacco farms in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, "get so sick that they throw up, get covered by pesticides and have no real protective gear"…Children…are suffering serious health problem from toiling long hours in tobacco fields to harvest pesticide-laced leaves for major cigarette brands…Human Rights Watch (HRW) interviewed more than 140 youngsters…They reported nausea, vomiting, headaches and other health problems associated with nicotine poisoning, known colloquially as green tobacco sickness, which is common among agricultural workers who absorb the toxic substance through their skin…While strict provisions govern child labor in industrial environments, U.S. agriculture labor laws are much looser, allowing 12-year-olds to labor for unlimited hours…on any size of farm. On small farms, there is no minimum age…

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Article
14 May 2014

[PDF] Appendix

Author: Human Rights Watch

[Includes correspondence with Altria, British American Tobacco, China National Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, Lorillard Tobacco (part of Carolina Group), Philip Morris International, Reynolds American & Universal Corporation]

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Article
14 May 2014

[PDF] Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming [USA]

Author: Human Rights Watch

Children working on tobacco farms in the United States are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides, and other dangers…The tobacco grown on US farms is purchased by the largest tobacco companies in the world…Human Rights Watch interviewed 141 child tobacco workers, ages 7 to 17…Nearly three-quarters of the children interviewed…reported the sudden onset of serious symptoms…Many of these symptoms are consistent with acute nicotine poisoning…Human Rights Watch believes that no child under age 18 should be permitted to perform work in which they come into direct contact with tobacco in any form…due to the inherent health risks posed by nicotine and the pesticides applied to the crop…[Refers to Alliance One, Altria, British American Tobacco, China National Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, Lorillard Tobacco (part of Carolina Group), Philip Morris International, Reynolds American & Universal Corporation]

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