• June 21, 2024

Acting on child labor

 Acting on child labor

In the wake of World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, some US politicians are attempting to reintroduced the Children Don’t Belong on Tobacco Farms Act, according to a TMA report citing Congressional Documents and Publications.

The act, if passed, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act effectively to prohibit children under the age of 18 from working on tobacco farms.

One of the sponsors of the bill, US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), was quoted as saying that it had been known for decades that tobacco companies had no qualms marketing their deadly products to minors.

But Big Tobacco’s willingness to exploit children for profit didn’t end there, he said. Children as young as 11 or 12 had been found risking nicotine poisoning and long-term health consequences from handling tobacco plants.

US law prohibited children under the age of 18 from buying cigarettes, but children as young as 12 were permitted to work in tobacco fields, where handling tobacco plants could lead to nicotine poisoning.

Tobacco companies and growers’ associations in the US recently adopted voluntary standards to limit child labor in tobacco work, but this bill would codify the implicit agreement that a tobacco farm is no place for children to work.