Malawi’s Child Tobacco Workers

2011 Kristin Palitza – At the height of the tobacco harvest season, Malawi’s lush, flowing fields are filled with young children picking the big green-yellow leaves. Some can count their age on one hand. Since the handling of the leaves is done largely without protective clothing, workers absorb up to 54 milligrams of dissolved nicotine daily through their skin, equal to the amount of 50 cigarettes, according to researchers at College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky, Lexington.

And more than 90% of Malawi’s tobacco is bought by two US-based leaf buyers, Universal Corporation and Alliance One International, which resell it to international tobacco firms. Their main clients are two of the world’s biggest cigarette manufacturers, Philip Morris (Marlboro) and British American Tobacco (Lucky Strike). Consequently, Malawi’s tobacco is found in the blend of almost every cigarette smoked in the west. Read the full report in the Guardian. Photography by Kristin Palitza.