Working in the tobacco fields is dangerous.Farmworkers often suffer from serious health conditions as a result of the dangerous field work and living conditions. Adequate shower and laundry facilities are often lacking, making it difficult to wash off pesticide residue. Each year, thousands of workers suffer from Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS), which is caused by a high level of nicotine absorption through the skin. Short term effects include dizziness, nausea, and dehydration, which can lead to more serious health problems such as heat stroke.
The most serious problem faced by tobacco field workers is that, without union representation, they have no voice in those conditions that impact their lives. Everyone else makes decisions for them and if they complain about mistreatment or if their productivity declines from tobacco sickness, they can be fired without question.