Child labor worry over Australia’s imports

| October 1, 2013

Australia’s cigarette trade is being “propped up by the exploitation of children,” according to a piece by Jill Stark published in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Stark writes that “new figures” reveal that $16 million worth of tobacco is imported annually from countries where “cheap child labor” is used to produce the crop.

“An analysis of United Nations trade data shows that almost 3,000 tonnes of tobacco were imported last year from countries using child labour to cultivate crops,” the story claims.

“Anti-smoking group ASH Australia, which compiled the figures, warns that children as young as five are being paid a pittance to work in the tobacco trade, and face serious health risks from nicotine poisoning.

“Chief executive Anne Jones said that while most smokers knew the personal health risks of smoking, many would be unaware cigarettes [sic] largely came from countries such as India, the Philippines, Thailand and Malawi, where child labour was rife.”

However, it is a big step from saying that 3,000 tonnes of tobacco were imported from countries where child labor is used to produce tobacco, to saying that the 3,000 tonnes imported into Australia were produced in part using child labor.

The senior corporate affairs manager for British American Tobacco Australia, Scott McIntyre, said BAT firmly agreed that children must never be exploited, exposed to danger or denied an education. “We make it clear to all of our contracted farmers and suppliers that exploitative child labour will not be tolerated,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Imperial Tobacco was quoted as saying the company’s policy was to ensure the group and its subsidiaries did not employ children.

Category: Breaking News

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