Jul 22, 2010

Tobacco companies looking for younger customers and employees

Tobacco companies have long targeted children with advertising to get them hooked on nicotine to make them future customers, but U.S. law has forced them to look offshore to a lucrative, untapped and unregulated market. Now, they have found a way to find both young customers and workers.

In a new report by Human Rights Watch, child laborers as young as 10 years-old picking tobacco in fields that supply a Philip Morris factory in Kazakhstan in Central Asia have experienced such high doses of nicotine that they feel dizzy, vomit, and develop rashes on their necks and stomachs, a condition known as "green tobacco sickness.” They intake nicotine through their skin equal to 36 cigarettes a day.

Other migrant tobacco workers have only pesticide-contaminated water to drink and are forced to work without pay. Lacking easy access to potable water, for example, laborers had resorted to drinking from irrigation channels contaminated with pesticides, according to a story in the New York Times.

Of course, after Philip Morris was provided with an advance copy of the report, Phillip Morris said it agreed to sweeping changes in its purchasing policies in Kazakhstan.

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