Tobacco is not harmful only to the people who smoke it

Dear Kevin,

Tobacco is not harmful only to the people who smoke it. It is a toxic crop for those who harvest it, who are susceptible to nicotine poisoning simply from handling the crop. In far too many countries – Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malawi and the United States to name a few – those at risk include children.

Today is the 15th annual World Day Against Child Labor. The same year this international day of action was founded, a non-profit organization funded by the tobacco industry called the End Child Labor in Tobacco Foundation began programmatic work on the ground. All these years later, child labor in tobacco has not decreased, and is likely on the rise, as the industry expands a supply chain model that marginalize those at the bottom. In Malawi alone, the industry benefits to the tune of $10 million per year from unpaid child labor. Meanwhile, Malawian farmers would need a 78% increase in their income to meet the minimum cost of a decent living, while they grow a toxic crop for an industry that earns $700 billion a year!

Small corporate investments in social programs are a solution to a PR problem, not to the fundamental drivers of child labor in tobacco supply chains. Real solutions would shift the economic injustice baked into the global tobacco trade as it is currently structured and allow growers and farmworkers to negotiate for higher prices and better working conditions. We believe an important first step in ending child labor in tobacco is a call from global tobacco unions to demand good faith negotiations and transparent supply chains that make it possible for those growing tobacco to realize their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Help us insert this discussion into social media around World Day Against Child Labor today. Take a moment to share with your networks via Facebook and Twitter to press for worker-driven solutions to pull families out of poverty and children out of abusive labor.

In Solidarity,

Abby McGill
Campaigns Director

 International Labor Rights Forum.  


About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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