Legal Analysis Shows: People Affected by Environmental Tobacco Smoke are Protected Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Between 1994 and 1996, the Tobacco Control Resource Center, Inc., Boston, summarized and analyzed litigation developments involving smoking policies in the workplace, specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state anti-discrimination laws.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program.

Key Findings

  • The study found that current disability and anti-discrimination laws can safeguard individuals with respiratory disabilities affected by environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
  • Because millions of Americans have respiratory and cardiovascular diseases that may be affected by ETS (more than 300,000 children alone have asthma that is attributable to ETS exposure), tobacco control strategists and advocates of smoke-free environments see this area of litigation and education as a very important component of their goal to significantly improve the nation's indoor air quality.
  • A monthly annotated list of past and current legal cases involving disability discrimination claims and ETS was prepared and distributed to attorneys, health officials, and tobacco control advocates.
  • A toll-free number was set up for free information about ETS and the law, logging more than 300 inquiries. The findings were published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, TRIAL, and elsewhere. The principal investigator made numerous presentations.