So Apparently It's Legal for Seven-Year-Olds (!) to Work On Tobacco Farms

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 14 2014 4:52 PM

So Apparently It's Legal for Seven-Year-Olds (!) to Work On Tobacco Farms

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Tobacco.

Photo by Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images

The Wire highlights a concerning study released by Human Rights Watch about the effects of nicotine, pesticides, and other health hazards on 7-to-17-year-old American tobacco farm workers, many of whom suffer from symptoms including—wait, hang on, there are seven-year-olds in the United States working on tobacco farms? Apparently so:

According to the report, children 12 and over can work on a tobacco farm of any size, for unlimited hours, as long as they are granted parental permission and don't work instead of going to school. Children under 12 can work on small, family farms. Agriculture is the only industry that allows children of this age to work.
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The Department of Labor proposed changing this rule in 2011, but backed down after farmers objected. Three-quarters of the 141 underage laborers interviewed for the HRW report said they had experienced symptoms including "nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headaches, dizziness, skin rashes, difficulty breathing, and irritation to their eyes and mouths" while working with tobacco.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.

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