(Access to Coverage of Tobacco Treatment In Our Nation)
Shaping Policies | Improving Health
September 26, 2012 Amid all the well-deserved concern over the deadly effects of tobacco on smokers, we’ve largely overlooked tobacco’s other major victims – the workers who harvest the damn stuff for the great profit of tobacco companies, often because they have virtually no other way to make a living. There are nearly 100,000 tobacco harvesters, some as young as 12, most of them Mexican immigrants. They work during the summer in the tobacco fields of North Carolina, the country’s leading tobacco producer. As the AFL-CIO, its Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), the human rights group Oxfam America and others have reported, the workers’ pay and working and living conditions are abominable. The reports note that year after year, thousands of the workers are afflicted with “green tobacco sickness,” which is caused by overexposure to the highly toxic nicotine in tobacco leaves that ‘s absorbed into their bodies.
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