Smokers’ Rights Group Sues New York State Parks Department Over ”No Smoking” Signs

NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.) has filed a lawsuit against the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and its commissioner, Rose Harvey, seeking to have misleading “Smoking Prohibited” signs removed from state parks, pools, beaches and historic sites.

The suit comes after C.L.A.S.H. objected in May to the agency’s implementation of a smoking ban policy in certain outdoor areas under NYS Parks jurisdiction without any legislative authority. OPRHP responded by withdrawing the proposed ban but has flatly refused to remove the ‘Smoking Prohibited’ signs that it installed despite the non-existence of any kind of legal prohibition.

Audrey Silk, founder of C.L.A.S.H., says, “The intentional use of signage to fool park visitors into thinking that an unofficial policy has the force of law as a coercive tactic to induce compliance with a moral, rather than a legal, dictate cannot be tolerated. Government is taking its war on smokers to the new contemptible level when it determines the rule of law is expendable when it comes ‘to those people.’ Rogue governance is a threat to all.”

Silk adds, “When already beleaguered adults who choose to smoke are enjoying their outdoor activities this Independence Day holiday we want them to know that they can take to heart words from the day’s founding document that ‘[W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government…’

“So feel free to assert your independence from tyranny and smoke ’em if ya got ’em because the signs are a lie.”

Joshpe Law Group LLP, a Manhattan law firm, filed the suit on behalf of C.L.A.S.H. Attorney Brett Joshpe said, “regardless of your view on public smoking, one thing is clear: it is wildly inappropriate for unelected personnel to be declaring behavior prohibited, giving the public the false impression of the force of law, when that very behavior is completely legal.” Joshpe also said that if the Office of Parks proceeds to implement the new restrictions without the legislature passing a law first, his client will sue on that basis as well. The suit was filed in Albany County.

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