For immediate release: July 23, 2003
Contact: Audrey Silk (917) 888-9317
Contact: Kevin Mulhearn (845) 398-0361


On behalf of its members, the 2 million smokers in New York City, and the 4 million smokers in New York State, NYC CLASH, the state's largest smokers' rights organization, has today filed suit in the federal Southern District Court of NY against both City and State, contending that the sweeping bans against smoking recently enacted in Albany and Manhattan are arbitrary, discriminatory and unconstitutional.

"There is no rational basis for any of these laws," says NYC CLASH founder, Audrey Silk, "and they obviously discriminate against smokers, as a class. The people who smoke seem to have been forgotten and this lawsuit is a chance for the people to be heard."

The lawsuit, filed by the group's attorney, Kevin T. Mulhearn, asserts that the laws, which prohibit smoking in virtually all privately owned establishments in the state ("with the exception--so far," Silk adds, "of private homes") violate the fundamental rights of all smokers as described in the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Among these rights, granted to all citizens, are the unabridgeable right to enter into contracts, the right to free assembly and free association, and the federal guarantees of both equal protection and due process.

"It's as though," Silk says, "we've lost all our rights as American citizens just because we've made the legal choice to smoke. In fact, the only right these laws want to leave us is the right to pay taxes."