Child Tobacco Workers in U.S. Linked to Marlboro, Newport, Camel Cigarettes
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a damning report that illustrates the conditions that child tobacco workers endure in the United States. The organization interviewed 141 child workers between the ages of 7 and 17 who work tobacco fields in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, where 90 percent of tobacco is cultivated in the U.S. The conditions that children endure—including likely poisoning—are horrifying:
Nearly three-quarters of the children interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported the sudden onset of serious symptoms—including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headaches, dizziness, skin rashes, difficulty breathing, and irritation to their eyes and mouths—while working in fields of tobacco plants and in barns with dried tobacco leaves and tobacco dust. Many of these symptoms are consistent with acute nicotine poisoning.
Tobacco cultivation is hard work, and HRW has found that children are exploited to work the fields in every step, from seeding to pesticide application to harvesting—sometimes by hand, sometimes by machine. Working by hand includes literally working on hands and knees to pick weeds. But working with machines or tools increases the likelihood of grave injury from sudden lacerations.