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A recent report of Human Rights Watch has revealed that children working on tobacco farms in the United States are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides and other dangers.

Although the world’s biggest tobacco companies buy tobacco from US farms, none have child labor policies to protect children from hazardous work.

The report outlines the conditions of children who work on tobacco farms in four states which represent the 90 percent of US tobacco production: North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The report shows that children suffer from diseases such as nausea and headaches while working on tobacco farms: experts warn that these symptoms are the sign of a high degree of nicotine poisoning.

Moreover, the report documents that children are forced to work long hours without overtime pay, in extreme heat without shade or sufficient breaks, and without adequate protective gear, exposed to dangerous nicotine.

Human Rights Watch says that pesticides used in tobacco production, known as neurotoxins, represent one of the major threats for children health. Experts reveal that these pesticides can strongly alter the nervous system.

In addition to that, recent data show that agriculture represents the most dangerous industry open to young workers. Children interviewed by Human Rights Watch described that they had no access to minimum services or a place to wash their hands at worksites. That means leaving them with tobacco or pesticides residue on their hands, even during mealtimes.

In the light of this report, Human Rights Watch has called for global tobacco companies to adopt concrete policies to avoid hazardous child labor in their supply chains, urging companies to prohibit children from engaging in all activities that pose risks to their health and safety, including any work that involves direct contact with tobacco, due to the severe risk of nicotine exposure.


The gLAWcal Team

Thursday, 22 May 2014

(source: Human Rights Watch)

This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.