Upholding Labor Rights on Farms

Farm workers are vulnerable to labor rights abuses – we’re working to protect them

The informal, seasonal, and transactional nature of agriculture work, makes farm workers vulnerable to occupational and environmental risks. We’re working to address the core problems these farm workers face by understanding who the farm workers are, how they are hired, their working conditions, and how they are paid. We set up the Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) program in 2011 to improve labor practices and progressively eliminate child labor on all farms from which we purchase tobacco. We have communicated our standards and expectations to all farmers, and put in place the resources needed to monitor conditions on farms and bring sensible solutions to problematic practices. PMI partners with the leading NGO in supply chain sustainability, Verité, to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate the effectiveness of the ALP program. 

The ALP program consists of four key components:

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ALP Code
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Training programs
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Monitoring and external verification
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Engagement with stakeholders

  1. An ALP Code, based on standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and other relevant ILO conventions, defines clear principles and standards that PMI expects to be met by all farmers who have contractual arrangements directly with PMI or with third-party leaf suppliers who buy tobacco for PMI.
  2. Training programs for our Leaf Agronomy teams, suppliers, farmers, and workers on the ALP Code’s principles and standards and related issues
  3. An internal monitoring system to systematically identify and address issues coupled with external country-specific assessments to evaluate the implementation of the ALP program and the labor conditions on farms
  4. Engagement with stakeholders to improve labor practices on tobacco farms and to enhance the livelihoods of people in tobacco-growing communities 
The company’s approach to the serious problems in its tobacco production over the past five years puts it at the leadership level among multinationals. This effort to identify conditions on farms has reached a scale that is notable.
  • Dr. Shawn MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Verité

Taking a Stand Against Child Labor

According to the International Labor Organization, the largest share of child labor occurs in the agricultural sector: Around 108 million children are impacted worldwide, involved in different forms of hazardous work. In many cases, child labor is often the result of complex challenges stemming from socioeconomic realities and cultural practices. Addressing these challenges is not something that can be done overnight, or by a single company. That’s why we, together with Verité, have developed a comprehensive approach to addressing child labor wherever we source tobacco:


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Child Labor Policy
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Field Support
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Community Investment

  • Child Labor Policy: Our ALP Code explicitly states that there shall be no child labor and specifies minimum age requirements. The ALP Code also prohibits children under 18 from performing any type of hazardous work, and it defines conditions for work on family farms.  


  • Field Support: Through regular visits, 2,800 trained field technicians continually monitor tens of thousands of farms and help ensure standards are met by everyone. They clarify our expectations, while taking a pragmatic approach to resolving problems with farmers. 
  • Community Investment: One of the best ways to eliminate child labor is to create economic opportunities for families. We are complementing our operational efforts aimed at improving farming practices with community initiatives. We’re working with nonprofit organizations around the world to improve quality and access to education, after-school programs, and vocational and entrepreneurship training for women.

Transparency and External Verification 


Around the world, we’re tackling complex labor issues in our tobacco-growing supply chain. Meaningful results require the long-term commitment of all stakeholders. We believe that disclosing our progress and challenges is an important step in addressing the issues of child labor and other labor-related abuses. With this in mind, PMI worked with Verité to commission Control Union Certifications to do third-party assessments of our ALP program. The assessments evaluate the current status of farm-labor practices and risk areas, and include comprehensive plans to improve conditions on farms in light of the findings.  

We’re also working with Verité to better understand the impact of our ALP program on the lives, behaviors, and views of farmers and farm workers. Together, we have recently undertaken a pilot initiative entitled Most Significant Change (MSC), to collect first person narratives and experiences from the people most affected by the program. Read more about the results of this initiative conducted in a small community in Malawi here.

You may have seen the recent articles published by The Guardian newspaper concerning child labor in tobacco growing. Philip Morris International (PMI) was contacted for input and we provided statements and a series of additional facts based on their inquiry. The full overview of our responses to The Guardian is available below.

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