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Judge upholds NY smoking bans after private Players Club sues to defend pipe ceremony

Publication Date: 2005-05-25
  • Publication:Newsday

A judge has tossed out a lawsuit brought by a 115-year-old private club that sought to strike down smoking bans so it could continue to honor its members _ who include Walter Cronkite and Carol Burnett _ with pipe ceremonies.

The Players Club is no more entitled to special privileges with city and state health inspectors enforcing the smoking bans than are pro-tobacco organizations that tried unsuccessfully to overturn the laws, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said Wednesday.

"Individuals have no `fundamental' constitutional right to smoke tobacco," the judge wrote. "While individuals' freedom of association, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech merit constitutional protection, there is no basis for concluding that the smoking bans infringe those rights."
He said the smoking bans target conduct _ smoking in certain places _ rather than speech, association or assembly, which are not regulated by the statutes.