Commenting on the report, PMI Sustainability Officer, Miguel Coleta, said:
“We are encouraged to be recognized for the transparency of our efforts to address hazardous farm working conditions for children on tobacco farms in Indonesia. Our Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) program is showing tangible progress to eliminate child labor on all farms where we source tobacco, yet we agree with HRW that there is much work still be to done. While we see significant reductions in child labor incidence in the areas where we have established our program, we know that we cannot succeed alone. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, and recognized by HRW, most child labor issues are not unique to tobacco, and we remain committed to working with government, farmers, the industry and companies across multiple sectors, as well as NGOs, to bring a positive shift in the behavior and practices of generations of farmers.”
In its report, Human Rights Watch confirms, “Transparency is a key element of effective and credible human rights due diligence. Among the companies we studied, Philip Morris International appears to have taken the greatest number of steps to be transparent about its human rights policies and monitoring procedures, including by publishing on its website its own progress reports as well as several detailed reports by third party monitors.”
PMI will continue working with its global strategic partner for ALP and leading NGO in the field of social responsibility, Verité. Commenting on HRW’s report, Verité’s Interim CEO, Shawn MacDonald, said:
“Verité appreciates and values Human Rights Watch’s efforts to draw attention to the human face of child labor in tobacco production in Indonesia, and is committed to continuing to support PMI and its affiliates to take concrete steps to address this urgent issue. PMI’s implementation of the ALP program and its efforts to shift tobacco purchasing away from reliance on the open market in favor of direct contracting of farmers represent critical steps in the right direction. More work clearly remains to be done, however, and we look forward to continued collaboration with PMI to help ensure that programs and policies are implemented as effectively and comprehensively as possible.”
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that more than 1.5 million children aged 10 to 17 years work in agriculture in Indonesia each year.
The Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration estimates that approx. 400,000 children nationwide are involved in child labor in fishing and agriculture.
Key facts about PMI’s tobacco-growing supply chain in Indonesia and worldwide
PMI sources tobacco from around 450,000 farmers in nearly 30 countries worldwide. Most are small-scale family farms of two hectares of land or less.
Tobacco leaf from Indonesia totals approximately 10% of PMI’s worldwide leaf purchases and is used almost exclusively for domestic market production.
There are around 550,000 tobacco farmers in Indonesia alone. PMI’s suppliers have signed direct contracts with 27,000 farmers (2014 data).
PMI has been progressively moving away from the multi-layered purchasing system (the “open market system”) in the country towards direct contracts.
PMI’s tobacco leaf purchases from contracted farmers in Indonesia grew significantly from 12% in 2011 to approximately 70% in 2015.
For PMI, direct contracts with farmers are an important step in gaining visibility into farm conditions and they greatly enhance our ability to monitor and address labor issues on farms, including child labor.
In areas where PMI has introduced direct contracts with farmers, we have seen an improvement in farmers’ incomes, and we are providing protective equipment and training to over 27,000 farmers, alongside introducing labor-saving techniques to mitigate child labor risks. PMI has also deployed over 200 field staff to support farmers, who regularly monitor farms and take actions to eliminate child labor.
PMI also works with local NGOs and community schools to provide scholarships and after-school programs. In 2015 alone, these programs benefitted over 4,000 children in tobacco-growing communities.
HRW’s report notes an increasing alignment in the policies of international tobacco companies regarding child labor, highlighting the Eliminating Child Labor in Tobacco Growing Foundation’s industry-wide pledge of commitment to combat child labor, and the tasks that constitute hazardous child labor.
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
Philip Morris International media office