Controversy surrounding new signs in some New York State Parks leads to a lawsuit against the state's office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. C.L.A.S.H., which stands for Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, is arguing that enforcing no smoking in public areas is against their rights. While the lawsuit targets signs on state parks, similar signs can been seen in other parks, like the town park in Parishville. Our Cara Thomas asked park visitors what they thought of the new stipulation.
PARISHVILLE, N.Y. -- The new 'no smoking' sign has only been up a few day at Parishville's Town Park and so far, park officials say they've only received positive reaction.
"I think it's great. I mean, we have young children. We're a family trying to use this space and it's nice to not have to polluted with smoke in the air that we're in," said Christina Bailey, a visitor to Parishville's Town Park.
Town officials say it's been a long time coming and after a unanimous decision, the signs were put up on Monday, just in time for the Fourth of July holiday week. They say smokers will not be confronted, but are asked to not use any tobacco products on the beach, in the arena or in the picnic area. And one smoker we spoke with says those requests are within reason.
Adam Gonyea said, "They let us come here and party before the beach opens and when it opens, we've got to step off the sand to have a cigarette. No big deal."
But not everyone feels that way. In fact, they believe these signs are a huge deal. Members of C.L.A.S.H., a group which advocates smoker's rights, say these signs are not backed by any piece of legislation. Instead, they say it's government officials' ideology being forced on everyone else.
Audrey Silk is the founder of C.L.A.S.H.
Silk said, "You can't just put up signs willy nilly because you feel like it. That's not how democracy works and that's not what we expect out of our government."
The group has filed a lawsuit against New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to get their point across. They want the signs taken down.
"It's not even about smoking anymore per say. It's about respect for the citizenry. The minority deserved equal protection," said Silk.
But Bailey said, "I think it’s their rights, but I don't think they should take their rights and put it on other people, which is what I think smoking is."
And while some may disagree, the general consensus from smokers and non-smokers at the park is obeying the signs is a matter of respect.