Discussion

Child Workers on AMERICAN Tobacco Farms

 

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We have all seen the ads about child labor in third world countries and how we should not buy this product or that product because it is made by children in poor working conditions. Typically we look past these ads and act like child labor is not an issue because it is not happening here Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 1.22.11 AMin America so it does not apply to us. However, this new report from the Human Rights Watch nonprofit group highlights the issue of child labor on tobacco farms here in America.

Even though it is surprising that child labor is happening in our backyard, it is not surprising that the tobacco industry is the cause o it. The tobacco industry is the most manipulative industry in the world and is known for their history of deception and lies. This new report exposes their actions and tells the real life stories of the children that work on these dangerous farms; some as young as 7. It also shows us that child labor is still a huge issue in America that most of us overlook. Children (under the age of 18) can work in agriculture as young as the age of 12 with parental consent and children under 12 can work along-side a parent in an agricultural occupation.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 1.21.13 AMMost of these workers are migrants from other countries that moved to America for a better life, but at the farms they are exposed to hazardous chemicals, dangerous working conditions, long rigorous hours and unfair pay. The tobacco from these farms are bought by the 5 largest tobacco industries in the world. Most of these companies deny that there is an issue with child labor on their tobacco farms and have implemented guidelines (safety precautions) to make the working conditions “safer.” However, these workers are being exposed to nicotine poisoning because of the nicotine that is being absorbed through their skin. The symptoms of nicotine poisoning are nausea, vomiting, headaches, etc. As well, they are being exposed to dangerous pesticide chemicals that are being used in the fields and they work with dangerous equipment that can cut them during harvest. To dry the tobacco they have to hang it  from the rafters of old barns; which is another risk because of the heights that these children have to climb to.

It is awful that child labor is still an issue in America and there is obviously a lot that we can, and should, improve in our system. The government should step in and regulate child labor more in the agriculture industry so that all children are protected from unfair treatment like this. It is illegal for individuals under the age of 18 to buy tobacco products, but it is legal for them to work on a tobacco farm and still expose themselves to the harmful chemicals. Individuals under the age of 18 should not be allowed to legally work on tobacco farms. The Human Rights Watch group has done an amazing job with this report and creating supporting content to go along with it. They have created  a petition that people can sign to urge the tobacco industries to stop using children to harvest their products.

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Vaporized: E-Cigarettes, Advertising, and Youth

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 10.36.45 AMScreen Shot 2014-05-01 at 10.43.02 AMToday the Legacy for Health Foundation released their report Vaporized: E-Cigarettes, Advertising, and Youth, about the current trends of e-cigarette use amongst youth and the deeming regulations that were recently released by the FDA. The deeming document will set the national minimum age of 18 for the purchase of e-cigarettes. However, “it is essential that the regulation also prohibits marketing of these products to youth, something not included in the
proposal.”  According to the Center for Disease Control, the use of e-cigarettes doubled from 2011 to 2012 among middle and high school students and adults (18-34). As well, spending on advertising has risen from $5.6 million in 2010 to $82.1 million in 2013. “Overall, e-cigarette advertisers spent $39 million from June through November 2013, with magazines and national TV accounting for more than three-quarters of dollars spent.” Now that the Big Tobacco industries have taken over several big brands in the e-cigarette industry and are proposing to release their own e-cigarette brands later this year, it is expected that the amount of advertising will increase. E-cigarettes are proving to be a huge,
new, issue that is increasing the tobacco use rate amongst youth.

What are the issues that you see with e-cigarette use in your community and school

Youth Engagement in Change: From the Summit on the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Tobacco Report

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50 years ago, US Surgeon General Luther L. Terry wrote the first Surgeon General’s report linking smoking to cancer.

Read Surgeon General Terry’s Report Here: http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/Narrative/NN/p-nid/60

1069157_618847054837883_504654682_nIn honor of the historic 50 year milestone there was a summit held in New Orleans, Louisiana last week that was broadcasted live on the internet for people to view all around the world. The summit was a series of panel discussions featuring some of the leaders in the fight against big tobacco, including all living former US Surgeon Generals. I had the honor of being on the youth panel at the event that highlighted the importance of youth in promoting change in tobacco prevention initiatives and discussing the new FDA youth campaign The Real Cost that will soon be featured around the country and will directly target youth 12-17 and CVS’ decision to remove tobacco products from all of their stores. Overall the event was really amazing because of the people that were a part of it, but the best, and most rewarding, part was being able to tell the world that youth are the leaders of the change that we are seeing in society today.  

Whether or not the “adult world” wants to realize it, youth are the professionals in this generation. We have mastered the art of social media and we use it more than anyone else to spread our message and promote change that we support. If you want to successfully promote change then connect with a young person and give them the resources that they need to effectively use their voice in society. For a lot of adults that work in social change work this can be very scary because their job is on the line and they are trusting a young person. However, if adults would show young people that they trust them to do their work then they will do it with passion and the adult will find that giving a young person their voice in society is more rewarding than any amount of money. The truth is that young people listen to their peers in society more than they listen to adults. So why not recruit youth to lead change in society?

If you work in any form of activism then I would prompt you to include youth in all of your efforts and teach them how to do use their voice to promote change and lead the change. Also, please take some time to watch the summit (it is an entire days event so watching all of it at once is rather unreasonable but each panel is 30 minutes – 1 hour long and I have mentioned them below, in order, with a brief summary of the discussion topics) and pass it along to your colleagues.

There were six other panels at the event and they were all very informative about the current state of tobacco control. The entire summit is still online and can be viewed at: http://tobaccosummit.com/live.html

First panel: Conversations with U.S. Surgeons General – Reviewing the impact of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, reflecting on efforts of Surgeons Generals since the groundbreaking report and discussing where do we go from here to have a tobacco-free generations.
Second panel: Next Tobacco-Free Generation – Young anti-tobacco leaders have a conversation about what they are doing to reach a tobacco-free generation with examples of campaigns that work and new public service announcements directed to young people.
Third panel: Sons of Our Father – The sons of Dr. Luther Terry an Dr. Alton Ochsner, two pioneers against smoking and the hazards of tobacco use, reflect on the life and legacy of their fathers.
Fourth panel: Litigation, Legislation or Regulation – What impact on public health has litigation, legislation and regulations had and will have.
Fifth panel: Media and the Tobacco-Free Generation – A discussion on media’s role and its influence on young people in the past, present and future.
Sixth panel: Marketing and New Products – Defy students from Lake Charles, Louisiana, will perform a skit centered around how tobacco is marketed to youth and what they plan to do about it.
Seventh panel: What’s Working – An overview of efforts that have succeeded in increasing awareness about tobacco’s harm to individual health and why prevention works.