Southeast Asia: New report on child labour in the tobacco industry

A new report has been released by The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) entitled Child labour in tobacco cultivation in the ASEAN Region. Launched in Jakarta, Indonesia on 12 June in commemoration of World Day Against Child Labour, the report is a response to the major problem of child labour in the cultivation of tobacco in the ASEAN region.

Activities carried out by children in the tobacco industry include planting and watering tobacco seedlings, transplanting seedlings, applying fertilizers, weeding, harvesting, hanging tobacco leaves from poles in drying sheds, and folding tobacco leaves. Child labourers are exposed to the elements and are vulnerable to physical and chemical injuries.  Children working with tobacco are also denied recreational activities for their emotional wellbeing and educational opportunities that could lead them out of poverty.

Childrens’ employment in the tobacco industry, and the related risks, violate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which sets out rights of children to attain the highest standard of health (Article 24) and education (Article 28) and to protect them from commercial exploitation (Article 32).

SEATCA has called for the following actions:

  • Set a definitive deadline, e.g. 2015, to completely halt child labour in tobacco farming and apply a phase-out plan at national level
  • National governments must take responsibility to end child labour in tobacco production and set up  disincentives for the tobacco industry to profit from tobacco leaves produced with child labour such as paying a bond;
  • Ban so-called CSR activities conducted by the tobacco industry directed at farming communities.

To read the full report, click here.