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 in 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.
Most 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.
Today 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
Today is one of my favorite days of the year, it is Kick Butts Day or Texas Tobacco Free Kids Day here in the state! Kick Butts Day is a day that is dedicated to tobacco prevention groups doing events simultaneously all around the world. Here in the State we have adapted this day into Texas Tobacco Free Kids Day so that it is recognized as a state wide event for tobacco prevention with the Say What! groups. Kick Butts Day (#KBD) is organized by The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and this year for #KBD they are having people show their support of CVS’ decision to stop selling all tobacco products by the end of the year. They are asking supporters of CVS to pose with a flyer in front of a CVS store, take a picture and post it online with #StandWithCVS.
CVS announced last month that they will stop selling all tobacco products by October 1st of this year. This decision comes with the companies recent changes and plans for their company in the near future. CVS is now CVS Caremark and they plan to be a health care provider! They agree that tobacco has no place in a pharmacy, or health store. Congrats to CVS for doing what is morally right to care for their customers! Hopefully, other national pharmacies will follow CVS and prove that their customers are valued.
I find it extremely ironic that Walgreeens’ motto is “At the Corner of Happy & Healthy” but literally in the corner of their store is tobacco products. Come on Walgreens follow CVS and do what we all know is right!
During South by South West (SXSW) last week in Austin; Toms, the company known for their One for One initiative, announced their new giving project. They are now selling coffee and giving water to an individual in a third world country that the coffee came from! For every bag of coffee bought on their website they promise to give a person water for one week.
The coolest part of what Toms is doing is that they are opening coffee shops and the first one is here in Austin on South Congress near Hopdddy and Home Slice Pizza! It is so well designed and reflects the values of the company. The coffee shop is also a store where they are selling their shoes, glasses and other products from other companies they support.
In the shop they sell the coffee and serve it like a normal coffee shop, each cup of coffee gives water to a person for one day. They have another coffee shop in Venice, California at their flagship store and they plan to open stores all across the country.
It is exciting to think that we may soon see a Toms Roasting Co. Shop on every corner, like starbucks, and we can change the world by simply drinking coffee.
Again Toms has remind us that it is possible for all of us to make a difference!