Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes contributes to tobacco-related deaths, cancer and heart disease. Not to mention, secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard that causes about 50,000 deaths per year.
But have you ever heard about what happens to the children working on tobacco farms in the US? We hadn’t — mostly because we didn’t know it was happening. But it is.
On these tobacco farms, children are constantly exposed to extremely toxic pesticides, hazardous levels of nicotine poisoning and numerous other dangers, such as heatstroke and handling unsafe machinery.
Despite the fact that you must be 18 in order to purchase a pack of cigarettes, workers as young as 12-years-old tend the tobacco fields.
The Human Rights Watch report details findings from interviews with more than 140 children working on farms in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, where a majority of the country’s tobacco is grown. The short video above covers the quick facts of this report, while the full report below from Human Rights Watch offers greater depth. It discusses children getting into the business, and how they often become ill with headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness while working long hours.
If you consider your own health of no concern, the next time you smoke, maybe you’ll think of these innocent children.