Farm workers hoe weeds from a burley tobacco crop near Warsaw, Ky., in July 2008 file photo. Children as young as 7 work long hours harvesting nicotine- and pesticide-laced tobacco leaves under sometimes hazardous and sweltering conditions. (Ed Reinke/ASSCOCIATED PRESS)

The Oct. 9 Washington Post Magazine article “Green economy” detailed the harsh conditions and dangers endured by child tobacco workers but wrongly suggested that the work may be a necessary evil. We do not need to send young children into workplaces that make them ill in order to produce a product that kills millions each year. Adult workers are better equipped to deal with the dangers of nicotine absorption and teen farm workers can work on other crops that are less dangerous — although we favor the closing of exemptions that allow them to do this difficult work at age 12.

As Hull House social activist Grace Abbott once said, “Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time.” The Post’s editorial “Sick in the fields” noted evidence that nicotine “stunts adolescent brain development” and concluded accurately that the children “are simply being exploited.”

Reid Maki, Alexandria

The writer is director of child labor advocacy for the National Consumers League and coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition.