Dems urge Labor Department to prevent tobacco farms from using child workers

The Hill
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) on Wednesday urged the Labor Department to implement rules so that young children cannot work on tobacco farms.

In a letter to the Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Cicilline and Cartwright called on the department to issue a regulation to address the issue.

"We urge you to issue a proposed rule dealing solely with child labor on tobacco farms which would prevent children from working in the cultivation or curing of tobacco," the lawmakers wrote.

Earlier this year, Cicilline introduced a bill that would prevent anyone younger than 18 years old from working on tobacco farms, citing concerns about health risks. His bill followed a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report documenting the consequences for children who are exposed to tobacco.

"Nearly three-quarters of the children interviewed by HRW reported suffering from nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headaches, dizziness, skin rashes, difficulty breathing, and irritation of the eye and mouth. These symptoms are consistent with acute nicotine poisoning," the lawmakers wrote.

The two House Democrats argued it was especially important to prevent tobacco farms from exploiting child labor.

"Children working in tobacco are among the nation's most vulnerable and we must do more to protect them," they wrote.

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