Federal Judge Snuffs Out N.Y. Club’s Pipe Dreams

From Associated Press

A judge Wednesday tossed out a lawsuit brought by a 115-year-old private club that sought to strike down New York state and city no-smoking regulations so it could continue to honor its members -- who include Walter Cronkite and Carol Burnett -- with ceremonies that include lighting up.

The Players Club is no more entitled to special privileges than are pro-tobacco organizations that tried unsuccessfully to overturn the smoking ban, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said Wednesday.

“Individuals have no ‘fundamental’ constitutional right to smoke tobacco,” the judge said.

He said the smoking ban targets conduct -- smoking in certain places -- rather than speech, association or assembly, which are not regulated.


The judge rejected the argument that the smoking ban effectively outlawed a club tradition in which members are honored with pipe ceremonies on the club’s premises.

The judge suggested that the club substitute suitable nontobacco products.

The Players Club sued after health inspectors ticketed it for keeping ashtrays behind an office desk.

A lawyer for the club did not immediately return a call for comment.

A city anti-smoking law went into effect in March 2003.

A state law took effect in July 2003.

Besides Cronkite and Burnett, the club counts among its roughly 700 members Angela Lansbury and Timothy Hutton.