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Dems move to ban kids from working on tobacco farms

| Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, 9:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Thirty-five House Democrats are urging the Obama administration to prohibit children from working on tobacco farms, citing concerns about ill health effects.

The lawmakers, led by Reps. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Matt Cartwright, D-Scranton, made their plea in a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. A copy of the letter was obtained on Tuesday.

In 2012, the Labor Department withdrew a proposed rule that would have banned children younger than 16 from several kinds of agriculture work, including tobacco farms. In their letter, the lawmakers, all Democrats, urged a narrower ban that would deal solely with tobacco farms.

The letter doesn't specify an age limit, but a spokesman for Cicilline said he would prefer the ban apply to children younger than 18. Cicilline has a bill in Congress that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to ban children younger than 18 from jobs where they have direct contact with tobacco plants or leaves.

The lawmakers cited a Human Rights Watch report that said nearly three-quarters of the children interviewed reported vomiting.

and headaches while working on tobacco farms.

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