Activities performed by children in the farming of tobacco are a major problem in many Southeast Asian Countries. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 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). The activities performed by children in the cultivation of tobacco violate this convention.
A case study by Dr. Priyo Adi Nugroho in two districts in East Java, Indonesia found children below 15 years carried out a variety of activities in tobacco growing, including planting and watering tobacco seedlings, transplanting seedlings, applying fertilizers, weeding, harvesting, hanging tobacco leaves from poles in drying sheds, and folding tobacco leaves. Children work from 3 to over 7 hours a day and earning between IDR15,000 to 25,000 daily ($1.60 to $2.10 AUD).
Unlike other industries that have a zero tolerance for child labour, the tobacco industry has set no such polices or target date for complete eradication of child labour. The tobacco industry, while publicly condemning child labour, continues to purchase and use leaves that are produced by child labour and profits from them.
For more information about how the tobacco industry continues to exploit child labour please visit the latest news section of this website (internal link) to view a press release issued by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) on their report “Child Labour in Tobacco Cultivation in the ASEAN Region” released on World Day Against Child Labour.