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US child tobacco farms: 60hrs a week in heat, nico

 
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CherryBlossom View Drop Down
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    Posted: May 14 2014 at 12:03pm
http://rt.com/usa/158896-child-labor-us-tobacco/

US child tobacco farms: 60hrs a week in heat, nicotine exposure

Published time: May 14, 2014 12:39

Photo from www.hrw.org

Children as young as seven toil away in sweltering heat, harvesting pesticide-laden tobacco and facing high-volume nicotine exposure in the US south to satisfy the demand of global cigarette manufacturers, a report by the Human Rights Watch reveals.

The 138-page report, ‘Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in US Tobacco Farming’, gives a startling look of the often perilous conditions in which minors toil away in the United States’ tobacco heartland.

The report culls its information from interviews with more than 140 children working the fields in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia – where 90 percent of the country's tobacco is grown.

Many of the child workers report frequently getting sick with vomiting, nausea, headaches and dizziness; all of which are symptoms of ‘Green tobacco sickness’ – acute nicotine poisoning. Working 50-60 hours a week, often without overtime pay and in intense heat, they are also exposed to pesticides known neurotoxins.

“As the school year ends, children are heading into the tobacco fields, where they can’t avoid being exposed to dangerous nicotine, without smoking a single cigarette,” said Margaret Wurth, children’s rights researcher and co-author of the report. “It’s no surprise the children exposed to poisons in the tobacco fields are getting sick.”

HRW notes that while the long-term effects of nicotine absorption through the skin have not been studied, the side-effects of consuming tobacco products containing nicotine are well documented.

Image from www.hrw.org

According to the US Surgeon General’s most recent report, “The evidence is suggestive that nicotine exposure during adolescence, a critical window for brain development, may have lasting adverse consequences for brain development.”

Others are forced to use dangerous tools and machinery, lift heavy loads, and climb dangerous heights to pass tobacco for drying. A lack of health education and safety training, inadequate water, sanitation and shade, and a lack of personal protective equipment are listed as other risk factors.

Cost of education

Many of the children who have gone to work in the fields are in fact supplementing the income of their impoverished parents.

Gabriella G., a 42-year-old mother of six, told HRW why five of her children are currently working in the tobacco fields.

“What I earn is not sufficient for my family. My children have to work to buy school supplies, clothes, the things you have to pay for at school.”

Other children said similar circumstances pushed them into the fields. One 13-year-old, Raul D., told HRW, “I work so that I have money to buy clothes for school and school supplies, you know, like crayons and stuff. I’ve already bought my backpack for next year.”

Adriana, a 14-year-old from Kentucky who works as a hired hand on tobacco farms along with her parents and four brothers, sang a similar tune.

“I use the money for school supplies and to go on field trips,” she said.

One 11-year-old named Jerado working the fields in Kentucky even said he was saving up to go to college.

Perfectly legal

What’s perhaps more shocking is that all of it is legal. While in most industries the absolute minimum working age is 14-15 years old, different rules apply to the agricultural industry. While children as young as 12 can be hired to work unlimited hours at a large tobacco farm, those as young as seven can be utilized on family farms.

"The US has failed America's families by not meaningfully protecting child farmworkers from dangers to their health and safety, including on tobacco farms," said Wurth. "Farming is hard work anyway, but children working on tobacco farms get so sick that they throw up, get covered by pesticides and have no real protective gear."

Photo from www.hrw.org

HRW notes with some irony that the largest tobacco companies in the world purchase tobacco grown in the US to make popular cigarette brands like Marlboro, Newport, Camel, Pall Mall and others. And while these companies cannot legally sell cigarettes to children, they are able to benefit from child labor.

They also recommend several measures, including amending the Worker Protection Standard to impose a minimum age of 18 for all pesticide handlers, and the enactment of legislation that would prohibit children under age 18 from engaging in hazardous work on tobacco farms, “including any work in which children come into contact with tobacco plants of any size or with dried tobacco leaves.”

Passing the buck

In response to the report, Phillip Morris International (PMI) said it would broaden its internal monitoring effort to visit all contracted farms in the US. PMI further stated that “it did not agree with Human Rights Watch’s recommendation to extend restrictions on children working to all stages of the tobacco crop.”

Altria Group, the parent company of three US tobacco companies, including Philip Morris USA, said the HWR recommendations are “counter to current farming practices in the US” and “at odds with certain communities where family farming is a way of life.”

Other major cigarette manufacturers, including British American Tobacco and Reynolds American, stressed that the children were not in their direct employ, effectively diffusing responsibility down the supply chain of outsourced labor.

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SamoneLenior View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SamoneLenior Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2014 at 12:08pm


looks like the parents are okay with their kids working on the farms

sad this is their reality
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nitabug View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nitabug Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2014 at 12:10pm
and with that, I am officially done with smoking. how the fukis this legal?!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2014 at 12:14pm
That's Amurica for ya!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Majesty02 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2014 at 12:58pm

Aren't there child labor laws to prohibit this type of mistreatment? How do they get away with treating Yt kids like this in America?

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maysay1 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote maysay1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2014 at 1:03pm
Glad I don't smoke.

From what it sounds like, the kids go to school like they're supposed to and their parents are ok with it. So...idk. Maybe a person shouldn't have so many kids that their income isn't "sufficient" to buy them crayons for school and their child has to work full time in a tobacco field.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PurplePhase Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2014 at 1:22pm
Originally posted by nitabug nitabug wrote:

and with that, I am officially done with smoking. how the fukis this legal?!


A similar article is what made me stop immediately twenty some years ago. Sad to see this article today and not much has changed.
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PurplePhase View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PurplePhase Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2014 at 1:25pm
there were children in my grandmom's community who would start school late (approved) because they had to work on the farm/tobacco. It was allowed for them to start school after tobacco season was over.  One of my close friends was one of the kids who started late. She was  smart student but had to work  harder because   of getting a late start.  
I wonder if they still do that in those tobacco counties in NC.


Edited by PurplePhase - May 14 2014 at 1:26pm
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NARSAddict View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NARSAddict Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2014 at 6:35pm
I thought it was a open secret because I remember reading the poster that listed exemptions of labor laws and agriculture was one of them.  And it doesn't end with tobacco.  Think of the children who pick our fruit and vegetables.
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HowardAlumAKA View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HowardAlumAKA Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 14 2014 at 6:38pm
Hmm, I'm curious, are the parents on any type of welfare?
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