A recent report by Human Rights Watch has indicated that children working on tobacco farms are vulnerable to nicotine residue and other harmful pesticides that are not only affecting their health badly but also making them sick.
Following this, the group requested Barack Obama to take immediate action to forbid using child labor on tobacco farms. Moreover, they also requested that the children who are less than 18 years of age, should not be allowed to work on these farms, where harvesting of tobacco is done. The Human Rights Watch would also be pleased if the Department of Labor brings back the rules which it had earlier, declaring those jobs harmful for children that involved any sort of contact with the tobacco plants.
Margaret Wurth, the author of Tobacco’s Hidden Children, said, “There is significantly less protection for children on farms than in other industries.”
While preparing the report, the Human Rights Watch questioned around 141 tobacco workers with ages between 7 and 17, who had worked on these farms last year or in 2012 in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.
USA Today says that, “Those young workers frequently worked 50 to 60 hours a week in hot and damp conditions, using dangerous tools and machines, and risking falls from tobacco barns. But three-quarters of the children also were exposed to so much nicotine from handling tobacco leaves that they experienced serious illnesses, such as breathing problems, nausea, skin rashes, headaches and irritations in their eyes and mouths.”
It was no less than a shock that there were some children workers who even had pesticides sprinkled on them.
Furthermore, Erick Garcia, who began his work on tobacco fields at the age of 11, said, “Some people got sick. The owner didn’t care about it.”
Another worker, Celia, felt dizzy and sick, though she was wearing garbage bags on her legs to ensure that she does not get exposed to tobacco residue. However, she thinks that her complaints were not given any importance, as she was a child.
A US Senator Tom Harkin said, “We have a moral obligation to protect vulnerable workers, especially children. To think that we have children in America who are suffering acute nicotine poisoning because they are working in the tobacco fields of the U.S. is truly appalling.”