Problems in tobacco production

Child labor The International Labour Office reported that the most child-laborers work in agriculture, which is one of the most hazardous types of work.[53] The tobacco industry houses some of these working children. There is widespread use of children on farms in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.[54] While some of these children work with their families on small family-owned farms, others work on large plantations. In late 2009 reports were released by the London-based human-rights group Plan International, claiming that child labor was common on Malawi (producer of 1.8% of the world’s tobacco[39]) tobacco farms. The organization interviewed 44 teens, who worked full-time on farms during the 2007-2008 growing season. The child-laborers complained of low pay, long hours as well as physical and sexual abuse by their supervisors.[55] They also reported suffering from “green tobacco sickness,” a form of nicotine poisoning. When wet leaves are handled, nicotine from the leaves gets absorbed in the skin and causes nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Children were exposed to 50 cigarettes worth of nicotine through direct contact with tobacco leaves. This level of nicotine in children can permanently alter brain structure and function.[53] [edit]Economy Tobacco Harvesting, Vinales Valley, Cuba Major tobacco companies have encouraged global tobacco production. Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco each own or lease tobacco manufacturing facilities in at least 50 countries and buy crude tobacco leaf from at least 12 more countries.[56] This encouragement, along with government subsidies has led to a glut in the tobacco market. This s

rplus has resulted in lower prices, which are devastating to small-scale tobacco farmers. According to the World Bank, between 1985 and 2000 the inflation-adjusted price of tobacco dropped 37%.[57] Tobacco is the most widely smuggled legal product.[58] [edit]Environment Tobacco production requires the use of a large amount of pesticides. Tobacco companies recommend up to 16 separate applications of pesticides just in the period between planting the seeds in greenhouses and transplanting the young plants to the field.[59] Pesticide use has been worsened by the desire to produce larger crops in less time because of the decreasing market value of tobacco. Pesticides often harm tobacco farmers because they are unaware of the health effects and the proper safety protocol for working with pesticides. These pesticides, as well as fertilizers, end up in the soil, waterways, and the food chain.[60] Coupled with child labor, pesticides pose an even greater threat. Early exposure to pesticides may increase a child's lifelong cancer risk as well as harm his or her nervous and immune systems.[61] Tobacco is a crop that extracts nutrients, such as phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium, from the soil more quickly than any other major crop.[62] This leads to dependence on fertilizers. Furthermore, the wood used to cure tobacco in some places leads to deforestation. While some big tobacco producers such as China and the United States have access to petroleum, coal and natural gas, which can be used as alternatives to wood, most developing countries still rely on wood in the curing process.[62] Brazil alone uses the wood of 60 million trees per year for curing, packaging and rolling cigarettes.