This, in NY no less!
Judge overturns smoking ban in N.Y. state parks
Ashley Hupfl, Gannett Albany Bureau 4:45 p.m. EDT October 11, 2013
Smokers' rights group challenged constitutionality of the regulation.
052311 smoking New York
A smokers' rights group won its lawsuit against a New York agency when a judge this week said the officials overstepped their rule-making authority in banning smoking in portions of state parks.
* New York state parks department first designated smoke-free areas outdoors in spring 2012
* It expanded its prohibitions to include beaches, picnic shelters, public gardens and other areas this past spring
* Smokers faced a fine of up to $250 if the regulations were violated
ALBANY, N.Y. — A ban on smoking in portions of New York state parks was struck down this week after a judge ruled it exceeded the authority of the state agency that created it.
The ban created outdoor nonsmoking areas within state-run parks and historic sites, mostly around pools, playgrounds and other public areas.
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New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, a smokers advocacy group, challenged the ban in May as unconstitutional.
State Supreme Court Justice George Ceresia ruled in favor of the group, known as NYC CLASH, saying Tuesday that the state agency needed to receive approval from lawmakers for the ban. While he noted the Legislature previously had passed a ban on indoor smoking, bills banning smoking in parks have stalled in committee for years.
"It was a resounding victory because the Legislature has not spoken about this," said Edward Paltzik, an attorney for NYC CLASH. "The agency was writing on a clean slate, which they're not allowed to do."
The ruling requires the state to take down any no-smoking signs erected since the ban was put in place.
Earlier this year, the ban was expanded and added to the parks department's formal regulations. The agency put up signs that limited where smoking could take place, which included areas within 50 feet of buildings. Smokers faced a fine of up to $250 if the regulations were violated.
“This is putting the prohibitionists on notice that, despite their ugly war being waged on adults who choose to smoke, they are not entitled to a free-for-all in governing.”
— Audrey Silk, New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment
In a statement, the state Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation signaled it is considering an appeal.
"State Parks has legislative authority to manage a wide variety of activities within state parks to balance often conflicting uses of our patrons," officials said in a statement. "We believe this authority extends to the regulation of outdoor smoking on playgrounds, swimming pools, beaches and other locations where children and visitors congregate."
A spokesman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office represented the agency in the suit, said state lawyers are reviewing the decision with the state parks office.
More than 300 municipalities in New York State have passed regulations restricting tobacco use in parks, playgrounds, beaches, pools, athletic areas, pavilions and other outdoor recreational areas, the governor's office said earlier this year.
Audrey Silk, founder of NYC CLASH, said the ruling should serve as a wake-up call for those looking to restrict smoker's rights.
"This is putting the prohibitionists on notice that, despite their ugly war being waged on adults who choose to smoke, they are not entitled to a free-for-all in governing when it comes to this segment of society," Silk said in a statement.