Child tobacco worker photo 1Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Congressman David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) introduced today a bill, the Children Don’t Belong on Tobacco Farms Act, to prohibit child labor in tobacco-related corporate agriculture.

Over 500,000 children and teenagers work as child laborers in agriculture, one of the most dangerous work industries in America. According to a shocking report from Human Rights Watch, farmworkers as young as 7-years-old are facing health consequences working on U.S. tobacco farms. Children often work over 50 hours a week in extreme conditions, without adequate protective gear and are exposed to harmful chemicals and nicotine poisoning. More than half of the children interviewed reported being exposed to toxic pesticides, and a majority of the children reported vomiting, nausea, headaches, and dizziness while working on tobacco farms, symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning.

The U. S. Department of Labor has declined to offer better protections for U.S. child laborers, but Senator Durbin and Congressman Cicilline get it. They know that if we do not let kids consume tobacco products, we sure should not allow them to risk their lives to produce them.

The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to include in the definition of “particularly hazardous oppressive child labor” any employment in which children under the age of 18 come into direct contact with tobacco plants or dried tobacco leaves.

First Focus Campaign for Children has endorsed the legislation, and has joined more than 50 national and state groups in calling on members of Congress to co-sponsor this critical bill.

How to end child tobacco labor in the U.S. >> via @Campaign4Kids Voices for Kids blog #childlabor #childrights
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Want to learn more? First Focus Campaign for Children is a bipartisan advocacy organization advocating to make children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. Learn more about our work on child safety.

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