December 17, 2014
Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 835-3323
Washington, DC – In a major step towards eliminating child labor in American tobacco production, the largest tobacco company in the United States announced that it will require its suppliers to prohibit children under 16 years of age from working in their tobacco fields. The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, is praising Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris USA and makers of Marlboro cigarettes, for taking a leadership role on this important issue. These changes will be implemented in 2015.
“This decision by Altria is a significant step towards protecting American children in our tobacco fields,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL. “The negative health consequences for children working in these fields are well documented. Thousands of children routinely suffer from vomiting, dizziness, and headaches symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning. Other tobacco companies including R.J. Reynolds, America’s second-largest tobacco producer, must follow Altria’s lead.”
“We believe that no one under 18 should work in tobacco fields in the United States or abroad,” said Greenberg. “While we applaud this step forward, Altria has a lot of work to do to ensure that its suppliers enact the policy effectively. We’d love to see a detailed plan from the company on how it hopes to carry out this difficult task.”
Under US law, children as young as 12 can legally work unlimited hours in agriculture if that work does not interfere with school. It is time we close the loopholes that allow these glaring injustices.
The Child Labor Coalition, a group of more than 35 organizations working together to end child labor domestically and abroad, was founded and has been co-chaired by NCL since 1989.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.