The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) has applauded Philip Morris International for adopting a new US tobacco-buying policy that, the CLC says, ‘could well lead to reduced child labor in US tobacco fields’.
Under the new policy (see PMI announces new U.S. tobacco purchasing model story, November 5), PMI is outsourcing its US tobacco purchasing to Universal and Alliance, and these companies will require growers supplying PMI tobacco to comply with PMI’s child labor policy, which prohibits hazardous tobacco work for workers under 18.
“We’re encouraged that one of the 10 largest tobacco companies has taken this step,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League and co-chair of the CLC, whose 34 member organizations fight exploitative child labor.
“Much work remains to be done to ensure that Philip Morris’s child labor policies are implemented properly in the field and we think an outright ban of child work on American tobacco farms would be more protective, but this is an important step in the right direction and we applaud them for it.”
In a press note, the CLC pointed out that US federal law allowed children 12 and older to work on farms for unlimited hours, as long as there was no conflict with schooling.
‘There is no minimum age for children who work on small farms, and the children of farm owners are exempt from any protections when working on their parents’ farms,’ the press note said.
‘In May, Human Rights Watch researchers released a report, Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming, which found that a majority of the more than 140 child tobacco workers interviewed has experienced nicotine poisoning while working in US fields.’