Overseas Marlboro maker Philip Morris to buy US tobacco from 3rd party, not farmers

Philip Morris International Inc. is partnering with two U.S. tobacco leaf suppliers to buy its tobacco rather than working directly with farmers.

The seller of Marlboro and other cigarette brands overseas announced the agreements with Virginia-based Universal Corp. and North Carolina-based Alliance One International Inc. on Wednesday.

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Philip Morris International says the deal that takes effect in April will help the company achieve important supply chain efficiencies while remaining a major purchaser of U.S.-grown tobacco.

About 35 Richmond-based employees will be affected by the change.

The move also requires Universal and Alliance One to adhere to the company policies that prohibit workers under 18 from some of the most hazardous tasks, including harvesting tobacco.

In May, a Human Rights Watch report raised concerns about children working on U.S. tobacco farms.