By Daniel Wiessner
ALBANY, N.Y. (Reuters) - A New York appeals court has reinstated a ban on smoking in state parks, dismissing a challenge by a group of smokers who said the restriction was enacted illegally.
A five-judge panel of the Albany court on Wednesday said the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation had the authority to enact the 2013 rule, which banned smoking at beaches, picnic areas and other outdoor areas at more than 200 parks and historic sites.
NYC CLASH, a group founded to fight prohibitions on smoking in New York City, claimed only the legislature had the power to enact the ban.
"All aspects of the regulation are grounded in (the agency's) stated purpose — to allow all patrons to enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of its outdoor facilities," Justice Karen Peters wrote.
Edward Paltzik, an attorney for CLASH, said the group is considering appealing the decision to New York's top court.
"The court minimized the importance of the Legislature's repeated failures to enact more comprehensive outdoor smoking legislation," said Paltzik, of the Joshpe Law Group.
The parks department did not return a request for comment.
The decision overturned a 2013 ruling by a state judge in Albany who said the ban was invalid because it prohibited smoking anywhere in New York City parks while designating certain non-smoking areas in parks outside the city.
Peters on Wednesday wrote that the distinction was permissible because the city's parks were smaller and tend to have more visitors.
CLASH, which stands for Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, was founded in 2000 to fight New York City's ban on smoking in restaurants and other indoor areas.
The case is NYC C.L.A.S.H. v. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, No. 519023.
(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner)