Sweeney Legacy as Leader for People with Disabilities is "Incomplete" Until Casino Smoking Loophole is Closed

LETTER: "You Can Help Prevent Children From Being Born with Disabilities by Ensuring Pregnant Women are Not Forced to Work in Smoke-Filled Environments"

December 8, 2021

Contact: press@no-smoke.org

Atlantic City, NJ -- Senate President Stephen Sweeney is a proud champion of New Jersey's disability community, yet his legacy is incomplete as long as pregnant casino workers are forced to jeopardize the health of their unborn children because New Jersey does not protect them from secondhand smoke at their workplaces. In a letter sent to Sweeney today, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights President and CEO Cynthia Hallett called on the outgoing leader to advance legislation during the lame duck session that would close the casino smoking loophole to protect both workers and their children.

"Your legacy as a champion of people, including children, with disabilities, is well deserved. However, that legacy is incomplete so long as pregnant women who work in casinos are forced to expose their unborn children to secondhand smoke and put them at serious risk of developmental and other disabilities that can and should be prevented," wrote Hallett

Further, Hallett wrote that, "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke face severe health consequences for both themselves and their baby. Secondhand smoke is a known preventable cause of low birth weight which increases rates of infant mortality, disability and disease among newborns. Among other serious health issues caused by secondhand smoke, babies can develop life-long breathing difficulties, problems with hearing or eyesight and developmental delays. Smoking can also increase unborn children’s risk for autism by 40%." 

It's past time to advance legislation to close the loophole. "Before the lame duck session ends, we urge you to bring up the bipartisan S1878 to close the casino loophole and permanently make casinos smokefree indoors," wrote Hallett. "Failing to close the casino loophole would not only be perceived as the legislature siding with Big Tobacco and the casino gaming industry at the expense of public health, it would also force thousands of frontline casino workers to choose between their health and a paycheck. And it would be an example of how state lawmakers are out-of-step with their constituents, who overwhelmingly support closing the casino smoking loophole."

"To put it simply, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke for anyone, let alone pregnant women and their unborn babies," wrote Hallett. "You have the power to make this a reality -- and to add one more major accomplishment to your legacy on behalf of people with disabilities. By finally closing the casino loophole, you can help prevent children from being born with disabilities by ensuring pregnant women are not forced to work in smoke-filled environments and breathe harmful secondhand smoke while on the job."

Read the entire letter here.


Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit https://no-smoke.org/ and https://smokefreecasinos.org/.