Group sues for right to smoke on the water

 Manhattanites take a leisurely Sunday morning in the sun by the Hudson river, at the Park on the West Side Drive and Christopher Streets.

Michael Dabin

Manhattanites enjoy a leisurely weekend morning at Hudson River Park.

A smokers’ rights group wants to snuff out the ban on smoking in New York’s Hudson River Park.

In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, CLASH — Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment — alleges the trust that runs the 550-acre park exceeded its authority when it banned smoking there in 2012.

The suit says only the state Legislature has that power — and has refused to exercise it.

The group cites a decision by a state Supreme Court judge in October that struck down a similar regulation by the state parks department banning smoking at public parks and beaches.

That ruling — the result of another CLASH lawsuit — is being appealed.

Dave Wilson of Manhattan smokes a cigarette in Union Square Park — but can't do so at Hudson River Park, to a smokers' rights group's chagrin.

Craig Warga/New York Daily News

Dave Wilson of Manhattan smokes a cigarette in Union Square Park — but can’t do so at Hudson River Park, to a smokers’ rights group’s chagrin.

A lawyer for CLASH, Edward Paltzik, said that while the Hudson River Park “isn’t technically a state park and it’s not a city park,” it is a state entity and so the trust didn’t have the power to ban smoking on its own.

“The state legislature has carved out four extremely narrow exceptions to outdoor smoking” — banning it from railroad platforms, some playgrounds, outside of hospitals and outside of elementary schools — and “could have easily banned it in state parks if it wanted to,” Paltzik said. “They didn’t.”

The Hudson River Park Trust was created by the state legislature in 1998, and it’s run by a board that includes appointees by the mayor’s and governor’s offices.

A spokesman for the trust, John Kelly, said, “The Trust does not comment on pending litigation.”

The Albany ruling does not affect the ban on smoking in New York City parks, which has yet to be challenged by the group.

Lifestyle – NY Daily News

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