After an article in the Times showed an uptick of smoking in bars, the city moved to catch a few of the worst offenders in the act. But this time, they had a new weapon: undercover inspectors that would fit in with the venue's regular customers. It seems that the regular inspection team hadn't been fitting in, because as the Department of Health's Thomas Merrill explains to the Times, "some of the clubs where smoking is going on tend to be very, very cool clubs, and a bunch of guys showing up in jackets tend to be very, very uncool.” So the city deputized a whole bunch of "younger and hipper-looking" inspectors to infiltrate the clubs. A genius tactic for the most part, although one operator told Eater that they still couldn't get past their doorman.
Meanwhile, the City has pressed ahead with its case against M2, but it may not be going as well as they had hoped. While the inspectors gathered irrefutable evidence that M2 customers were smoking in the club, M2's attorneys have argued that the inspectors could not prove that club had not made a good faith effort to get them to stop. And the law only requires that employees "request any person smoking to refrain from smoking inside the workplace" and report any problems to management. This is why clubs have dedicated staff to remind customers to put their cigarettes out - it allows them to be in compliance with the law. A decision by the judge in this case is expected in the next few weeks. The other clubs cited in the raids are weighing settlement offers, but it seems likely that they are waiting to see how the M2 case shakes out.
· City Tries to Shut Club It Says Flouts Smoking Ban [NYT]
· Following Smoking Crackdown, City Moves To Shut M2 [~ENY~]
· Smoking Ban Coverage [~ENY~]