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Wife To Appeal Ruling Against Her Smoking

February 24, 1988

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) _ The attorney for a chain-smoking woman under court order not to smoke in her family’s presence says he will appeal the decision as ″outrageously unconstitutional.″

The order barring Elizabeth Roofeh, 41, from smoking in front of her husband and their three children was issued Tuesday by Justice Ralph Diamond of the trial-level state Supreme Court.

Mrs. Roofeh also was directed to confine her cigarette puffing to a small television room in the couple’s Kings Point mansion.

″This is clearly a violation of her First Amendment rights,″ said her attorney, Joel Brandes.

″Who is going to enforce this? ... Are the children going to become policemen and turn their mother in for smoking?″

The ruling is ″outrageously unconstitutional,″ he added.

Mrs. Roofeh’s husband, Jahanshah, 42, a non-smoking surgeon, went to court in an attempt to get his wife to stop lighting up in front of him and their children, ages 6, 7 and 9.

He claimed he tried unsuccessfully for 12 years to get his wife to curtail her two-pack-a-day habit. He described her smoking as ″offensive and detrimental to the health of the children.″

The Roofehs, who were married in 1976, have been feuding since May when Mrs. Roofeh filed for divorce, which is pending before Diamond.

The Roofehs are still living together.

Mrs. Roofeh, who called her Iranian-born husband ″an ayatollah,″ said she smokes ″just to annoy″ him. ″I’ll quit when I get him out of the house,″ she said.

Neal Shayne, the dean of the Academy of Law for the Nassau County Bar Association, said he believes the order was legal because it’s not Mrs. Roofeh’s rights but the rights of her family that were violated by her smoking.

″I think it’s been established that smoking is certainly hazardous to a person’s health, especially to a young child,″ said Shayne.

Mrs. Roofeh said she has been limiting her smoking to the one small room in the couple’s six-bedroom home in recent months.

″It’s nothing new,″ said Mrs. Roofeh in referring to the constraints the judge has placed on her. ″I’ve always tried not to smoke in front of the children.″

Roofeh said when they were married his wife promised him she would not smoke in front of him.

She admits that she broke her promise in 1984 but it was because of stress from a stroke she suffered. She also has admitted that she used to sneak outside when she got an uncontrollable nicotine craving before 1984.

In issuing his ruling, the judge denied a request by Roofeh for an order of protection against his wife.

Roofeh had argued that smoking cigarettes may be as ″detrimental and reprehensible″ as would be ″hitting, slapping, punching, or spitting.″

The court found, however, that an order of protection is a tool designed to protect family members from domestic violence and not to protect against a spouse that smokes.

Stephen Schlissel, attorney for Roofeh, commended the judge on the decision.

″It is a natural extension of the law that if a child is being harmed by a parent’s conduct it should step in and safeguard the child,″ said Schlissel.

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