Human Rights Watch has published a 138-page report titled Tobacco's Hidden Children, detailing the abysmal conditions that American children are experiencing on tobacco farms. The Wire reports: The report authors spoke with more than 140 children, ages 7 to 17 from May to October 2013, and learned that many display symptoms of acute nicotine poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, skin rashes, loss of appetite and others. "I would barely eat anything because I wouldn’t get hungry. Sometimes I felt like I needed to throw up. … I felt like I was going to faint. I would stop and just hold myself up with the tobacco plant," said 13-year-old Elena.Under United States law, children as young as 12 can legally work on a tobacco farm of any size, and children under 12 are permitted to work on family farms—despite protections from child labor under the age of 14 in all other industries. The laws were scrutinized as recently as 2011, when the Department of Labor proposed changes before backing down under pressure from tobacco growers.
Dan Staggs is an intern at In These Times.