Indonesian Children Working in Hazardous Tobacco Farms

July 23, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. hazardous /ˈhæz ər dəs/ (adj.) – involving risk or danger
Example: I always tell him to be careful because he works in a hazardous place.

2. expose /ɪkˈspoʊz/ (v.) – to uncover
Example: The media exposed the corruption of the government to the public.

3. poisoning /ˈpɔɪ zə nɪŋ/ (n.) – the condition caused by poison or a toxic substance
Example: Some household items can cause poisoning.

4. nausea /ˈnɔ zi ə/ (n.) – stomach pain, especially when accompanied loss of appetite and an impulse to vomit
Example: She experienced nausea this morning.

5. prohibit /proʊˈhɪb ɪt/ (v.) – to forbid action or activity by authority or law
Example: Smoking cigarettes is prohibited in this area.


Read the text below.
International non-government organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) exposed in a report the hazardous working conditions of Indonesian children in tobacco farms.

According to the report, thousands of children are being exploited by tobacco companies throughout Indonesia. It also claims that children are being exposed to nicotine, toxic chemicals, and extreme heat, which can cause nicotine poisoning, cancer, and respiratory problems in the long run.

Some children who participated in the interview were already complaining of symptoms of nicotine poisoning and green tobacco sickness (GTS), which are diseases caused by being in direct contact with tobacco. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches.

In the report, it was detailed that the usual reason why children work in tobacco farms is that they want to help their parents and siblings, who also work in similar farms. The report called on the attention of the Indonesian government, along with tobacco producers and companies, to act on this matter and to prohibit dangerous child labor.

After the release of the report, Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, refused to release a statement regarding the findings of the report. On the other hand, some multinational companies like Philip Morris, Alliance One International, and British American Tobacco (BAT) said they were making efforts, like educating workers and creating worker safety programs, to reduce child labor in Indonesia.

Aside from the issue of hazardous child labor, the Indonesian government was also asked by other foreign organizations to immediately ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). However, East Java Governor Soekarwo opposed it. He said that foreign organizations should not intervene in matters related to tobacco farming and manufacturing in Indonesia.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think the responses of tobacco companies are enough to reduce or eliminate child labor in Indonesia? Discuss.
·         Why do you think some companies engage in child labor? Name all possible reasons.

Discussion B

·         Who should be responsible for the regulation or elimination of child labor?
·         In what industries is child labor most prevalent? Why do you think so?

July 23, 2016