The tobacco industry should be at the forefront of ending child labor across its supply chains to help secure rights, dignity and holistic growth of minors, campaigners said Monday.
Speaking at a virtual briefing, the international campaigners and experts said the use of child labor in cultivation and manufacture of tobacco products is a threat to sustainable development, peace and security.
Adriana Blanco Marquizo, head of the Secretariat of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control said that countries should enact punitive legislation and carry out public campaigns to eradicate child labor in tobacco value chains.
“Eliminating child labor in tobacco farms and other supply chains should be a matter of urgency since it has denied children the right to education while exposing them to health hazards,” said Marquizo.
She said that poverty, harmful cultural beliefs and lethargic enforcement of laws have fueled child labor in the tobacco industry, while exposing minors to physical abuse and respiratory infections.
According to Marquizo, COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of children to work in tobacco farms in developing countries for meager wages and in unhygienic conditions.
She said that governments should impose fines on tobacco value chain players engaging in child labor and enact laws that make it mandatory for all minors to be in school to cushion them from exploitation and abuse.
Marquizo said that raising taxes on the tobacco industry combined with financial incentives for poor households during the pandemic could boost efforts to eradicate child labor.
A report from International Labour Organization and UN children’s fund indicates that one out of ten children worldwide was engaged in labor at the beginning of 2020 while 79 million children were involved in hazardous work including tending to tobacco farms.
Mary Assunta, head of Global Research and Advocacy at the Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, said that ending child labor will boost tobacco industry’s reputation and shield it from expensive litigation. Enditem