Philip Morris Benefits From Child Labor on Kazakhstan Tobacco Farms

July 15, 2010

(ChattahBox)—-Children as young as ten-years-old are being forced to toil long hours on Kazakhstan tobacco farms that have contracts with tobacco giant Philip Morris, exposing them to high levels of nicotine and dangerous pesticides. The report by Human Rights Watch, uncovered the disturbing treatment of migrant worker families, including forced labor, debt bondage, confiscation of workers’ passports and child labor. Philip Morris has promised to remedy the exploitive conditions of migrant tobacco workers, but Human Rights Watch, says more needs to be done to protect the children.

According to the report, 72 children, along with their families were found to be working up to 13-hours a day on Kazakhstan tobacco farms:

“The 115-page report, “Hellish Work: Exploitation of Migrant Tobacco Workers in Kazakhstan,” documents how some employers confiscated migrant workers’ passports, failed to provide them with written contracts, did not pay regular wages, cheated them of earnings, and required them to work excessively long hours. Human Rights Watch also documented frequent use of child labor, with children as young as 10 working, even though tobacco farming is especially hazardous for children.”

Besides missing schooling and having their childhood stolen away, so that cigarette companies, such as Philip Morris can profit from their cheap labor, the children suffer from exposure to high levels of nicotine:

“During a single work day, tobacco harvesters can be exposed to a similar amount of nicotine as would be found in 36 average-strength cigarettes, and workers are at risk of contracting Green Tobacco Sickness, where nicotine is absorbed through the skin from contact with tobacco leaves. The illness causes nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle weakness and dizziness, and children are particularly susceptible due to their small body size.”

The full report can be found here.

Photo Source: Human Rights Watch


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