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Congressmen push to prohibit child tobacco workers

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Washington – Two members of Congress are broadening their effort to protect children as young as 12 from working in tobacco fields.

Reps. David N. Cicilline (D-RI) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez calling for a proposed rule that would prohibit young children from working in tobacco production. In the letter, dated Sept. 20, the lawmakers cited a recent survey from Human Rights Watch that found nearly 75 percent of child tobacco workers reported symptoms that were consistent with acute nicotine poisoning.

Cicilline also sponsored a bill (H.R. 5327) that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to prohibit children younger than 18 from taking part in tobacco-related work. The bill at press time had been referred to the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

The National Consumers League and the Child Labor Coalition issued a statement applauding the congressmen’s actions.