For Immediate Release: April 18, 2004
Contact: Audrey Silk (917) 888-9317


In an April 8 decision on NYC C.L.A.S.H.'s constitutional challenge to the city and state smoke bans, a US federal court, found the bans to be lawful. While acknowledging that smokers were, indeed, specifically "burdened," the court, nonetheless, failed to comprehend the true extent of that burden and its overwhelming effect on a large group of citizens.

The laws, after all, are so overly harsh and broad that they effectively ban smokers from assembling with other smokers in virtually every gathering place except for their own homes and would even prohibit them from opening a private "smokers only" club.

"We're disappointed with this decision," said CLASH's Audrey Silk.  "We wouldn't have brought this suit if we didn't believe so strongly that our rights were being abridged, but after long consideration, we've decided not to appeal.  But that's not the end of the story.  We'll continue to work to get the laws amended, and continue to stay away from those restaurants and bars where the smoking bans are enforced."

As part of its decision, the Court, however, acknowledged that the belief that secondhand smoke is harmful to nonsmokers "may not enjoy unanimous support in the scientific and medical community. Nor is every finding that ETS poses health risks immune from legitimate questioning and criticism.  Indeed, the Court cannot rule as a matter of law that the various reports and studies CLASH submits to support its contention that ETS is not materially harmful to nonsmokers are wholly without merit or are not sufficiently credible. Conceivably, all of CLASH's documentation...might be relevant under a strict scrutiny standard."

The Court, however, chose not to judge it by this standard, choosing instead a  standard which automatically  favors the actions and beliefs of a legislative body, and renders them nearly impervious to challenge.