March 10, 2016

Philip Morris International Inc. responds to Human Rights Watch report, ‘Teens of the Tobacco Fields’.

Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) welcomes today’s release of the Human Rights Watch (HRW)  research report entitled, “Teens of the Tobacco Fields: Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming ”.

The report focuses on teenage children, mainly 16 and 17-year-olds, exposed to hazardous work on US tobacco farms and looks specifically at the levels of protection provided for these teens both by industry policies and the US legal and regulatory framework, highlighting ongoing issues.

HRW’s work continues to shed light on serious issues related to teenage children exposed to green tobacco sickness (GTS), crop protection agents, and heat stress. The report recognizes that “tobacco industry actors and multi-stakeholder groups have taken some important steps aimed at protecting the youngest child workers from danger on tobacco farms.” HRW also notes that “tobacco companies do not bear the sole responsibility to protect child tobacco workers” and calls on the US government and Congress to take urgent action to change US laws and regulations to protect all children under 18 from hazardous work in tobacco farming.

Miguel Coleta, Sustainability Officer at PMI, said, “We appreciate the continued dialogue with HRW and remain fully committed to addressing child labor and other labor abuses in US tobacco farming and the more than 30 countries worldwide where we implement our global Agricultural Labor Practices Program (ALP). As acknowledged by HRW, PMI was the first tobacco company to require US tobacco growers to cater for stronger protections than required by US law and regulations, so it is very encouraging to see other players in the industry moving along and also strengthening their policies and practices.”

PMI’s concrete steps to address labor abuses and child labor in US tobacco growing are described in today’s HRW report: “Philip Morris International has had since 2011 the most detailed child labor policy (…) including prohibiting children under 18 from most of the hazardous tasks in tobacco farms, and has consistently made this information publicly available.”  In addition, HRW notes that “[t]he change to PMI’s leaf purchasing model [in the US] required AOI and Universal to follow PMI’s Agricultural Labor Practices Code (ALP)”, and states that “PMI conducted ALP training for the suppliers’ staff and contracted growers, and provided an information toolkit on hazardous activities (…), among other activities to facilitate the implementation.”

The report also highlights an increasing alignment in the policies of international tobacco companies and growers associations, continued multi-stakeholder dialogue, and the Eliminating Child Labor in Tobacco Growing Foundation’s (ECLT) agreement with the ILO on global guidance on hazardous child labor .

Miguel Coleta continued: “We will continue working with our tobacco leaf suppliers to monitor and address issues on US tobacco farms, and to engage with stakeholders to advance international labor standards – notably, implementation of the ECLT Foundation Board Members Pledge of Commitment on progressively eliminating child labor, and the ongoing cooperation with ILO to provide global guidance on hazardous child labor.  Both efforts will be equally important for bringing clarity and tangible progress in this area.”

With the support of our strategic partner for ALP, Verité , PMI will remain focused on its commitment to progressively eliminating child labor and other labor abuses where they are found and to achieve safe and fair working conditions on all farms where we source tobacco. In the US and worldwide, multi-stakeholder engagement involving the industry, NGOs, growers, and government, will continue to be a strong focus of our work.

To read PMI’s written correspondence with HRW on the issues raised in today’s report, please click on ‘Learn more about our Good Agricultural Practices program’ here.

 

NOTE TO THE EDITOR:

PMI developed a comprehensive global program (our Agricultural Labor Practices Program) through a strategic partnership with an internationally-renowned leading NGO in the field of social responsibility, Verité . With this program, we have set strict standards, trained nearly 4,000 PMI and supplier staff to move forward with its implementation and today are reaching close to half a million farmers worldwide. We are training, monitoring and, most importantly, supporting farmers to adopt better and safer practices on tobacco farms. In 2013 alone, we have invested nearly 30 million USD to improve labor conditions in our supply chain and improve the livelihoods of tobacco growing communities.

PMI is fully transparent about the rollout of its global ALP program and detailed information about our progress worldwide can be found here.

About Philip Morris International Inc. (“PMI”)

PMI is the world’s leading international tobacco company, with six of the world's top 15 international brands and products sold in more than 180 markets. 
In addition to the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, including Marlboro, the number one global cigarette brand, and other tobacco products, PMI is engaged in the development and commercialization of Reduced-Risk Products (“RRPs”).  RRPs is the term PMI uses to refer to products with the potential to reduce individual risk and population harm in comparison to smoking cigarettes.  
Through multidisciplinary capabilities in product development, state-of-the-art facilities, and industry-leading scientific substantiation, PMI aims to provide an RRP portfolio that meets a broad spectrum of adult smoker preferences and rigorous regulatory requirements.  

For more information, see
www.pmi.com
and www.pmiscience.com .  

Source: Philip Morris International

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