This blog post is courtesy of the US 100 Million Campaign
It’s really scary to me that our systems and society allow us to put children in danger of tobacco poisoning through working in fields, while simultaneously making it illegal for kids to smoke cigarettes by increasing the legal age to buy tobacco to 21 years old. If it’s too dangerous for children, why are we letting kids work in tobacco fields? Why is economic inequality so vastly high that kids are needing to put themselves at risk of severe health consequences to make enough money to survive?
Children who experience tobacco poisoning are at higher risk for cancer, reproductive health issues, mood disorders, and permanent neurological damage and two-thirds of children working in tobacco fields have said they have experienced tobacco poisoning.
World No Tobacco Day is on May 31st, and I think that we all need to join together to ask our Members of Congress to protect young people working in tobacco in the U.S. by supporting Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety, H.R. 3394 and Children Don’t Belong in Tobacco Farms Act, HR 3229 and S 1823.
I think that national and state policies are the surest way to protect children from being forced into these industries, but it doesn’t stop there. The root of this damage is a combination of greed and an economic system that rewards it. And, while we’re fighting for policies that better protect our children and future generations, we should be caring for our neighbors, both near and far, to help decrease the number of people who are forced into such an industry that cares only for the amount of tobacco they harvest and not about protecting worker health.
Maddie Tango is a junior at Middlebury College majoring in Conservation Biology. She was introduced to 100 Million in May 2018 and became part of the planning group a year later. She is excited to continue working with 100 Million to eradicate exploitation and poverty!