Tobacco Giant Benefits From Child Labor
Linkedin

Tobacco Giant Benefits From Child Labor

Almaty : Kazakhstan | Jul 15, 2010 at 12:02 PM PDT
XX XX
Views: Pending
 
To Travel

Although the link between smoking cigarettes and certain cancers is common knowledge, it hasn’t deterred tobacco companies from raking in huge profits. Altria Group, the largest U.S. tobacco company and parent of Philip Morris USA, reported first-quarter profits of $813 million – up from $224 million a year earlier. The company also says it shipped 34.1 billion cigarettes in the first quarter of 2010.

Helping to bring in those profits: forced and child labor.

Philip Morris International buys about 600,000 tons of tobacco leaf from suppliers and farmers in more than 30 countries annually – including Kazakhstan. Many migrant tobacco workers there have been cheated and exploited, and some trapped into forced labor, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

The 115-page Human Rights Watch report, "Hellish Work: Exploitation of Migrant Tobacco Workers in Kazakhstan," documents how employers confiscated migrant workers' passports preventing them from leaving, failed to provide them with written contracts, did not pay regular wages, cheated them of earnings, and required them to work excessively long hours without clean drinking water or other sanitary facilities. The international human-rights group also documented frequent use of child labor, with children as young as 10 years of age.

In fact, Human Rights Watch documented 72 cases of children working in tobacco the tobacco industry in 2009. Experts consider tobacco farming one of the worst forms of child labor since children face particular risks associated with the handling of tobacco leaves and exposure to pesticides. In addition, children who worked with their families on tobacco farms typically missed several months of school each year.

Work was not confined to the farms. The group’s research also reveals that families were forced to perform other unrelated duties, like doing laundry and painting employers homes without pay.

"Many of these tobacco workers - adults and children alike - came to Kazakhstan and found themselves in virtual bondage," said Jane Buchanan, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch. "Kazakhstan's government clearly needs to do much more to protect tobacco workers, but Philip Morris also has a key role to prevent abuses in its supply chain."

Philip Morris International responded to the Human Rights Watch report in a press release stating, “No one should work in unsafe or unlawful conditions and we are committed to working to prevent child labor, forced labor and other labor abuses in the tobacco supply chain.”

Philip Morris says it has taken immediate steps to strengthen the application of its existing policies and practices on child labor and to address the other areas of concern raised in the report, including strengthening contractual obligations for farmers to prohibit certain conduct and establishing standards of treatment of the workers.

Both Philip Morris International and Philip Morris Kazakhstan have said they will work with the government of Kazakhstan to address access to schools for migrant children and contribute to summer programs for children as alternatives to working. Philip Morris International has also hired a third-party expert organization to monitor labor practices in Kazakhstan and other Philip Morris International markets.

Mary Elizabeth Dallas is based in New York City, New York, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
Report Credibility
 
  • Clear
  • Share:
  • Share
  • Clear
  • Clear
  • Clear
  • Clear
 
 
 
Advertisement
 

News Stories

 
  • Kazakh warning for tobacco giant

    Philip Morris warned over Kazakh labour issues Philip Morris International sells tobacco products in 160 countries Cigarette maker Philip Morris International has acknowledged "serious issues" after a report said it bought tobacco from Kazakh farms...
  • Want to Boycott Philip Morris’ Labor Abuses in Kazakhstan? Good Luck

      Alternet
    Vision Investigations Want to Boycott Philip Morris' Labor Abuses in Kazakhstan? Good Luck Article printed from speakeasy: http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy URL to article: In a press release yesterday, Philip Morris expressed its firm opposition...
  • Tobacco Workers In Kazakhstan Face Exploitation, Child Labor

      Eurasianet
    That's because nearly every hour of her day is spent working in the tobacco fields of Kazakhstan alongside her parents, who are migrant laborers from neighboring Kyrgyzstan. "From 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., we go to the fields to gather [tobacco leaves],"...
  • Philip Morris under cloud for child labor

      The Economic Times
    One woman said children as young as 10 working in the fields developed red rashes on their stomachs and necks as they harvested tobacco for use in cigarettes made by Philip Morris. Another migrant labourer working in the tobacco fields in Kazakhstan...

Blogs

 >

Videos

 >
 

More From Allvoices

Related People

Report Your News Got a similar story?
Add it to the network!

Or add related content to this report



Use of this site is governed by our Terms of Use Agreement and Privacy Policy.

© Allvoices, Inc. 2008-2014. All rights reserved. Powered by PulsePoint.