Smokin': City Threatens to Yank Permits for Clubs That Won't Quit

By Jennifer Millman
|  Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010  |  Updated 9:00 AM EDT
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Smokin': City Threatens to Yank Permits for Clubs That Won't Quit

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Club-goers like their booze and cigs at the same time.

Got a light? At least five of the city's trendiest nightclubs could be closed down after an undercover operation showed the owners let hipsters light up freely on the dance floor, according to a report. 

The A-list clubs, which include the likes of Chelsea's M2 Ultra Lounge, which played host to the Sweet 16 bash for Sean Combs' son, and the East Village's Lit Lounge, are set to attend a hearing today in which authorities may try to take away their permits, according to the Daily News. That would mean no food, no beverages, no alcohol, and, of course, no party.

The tribunal marks the city's firmest move yet to combat illegal smoking in bars and restaurants, but some critics believe it's too aggressive.

While most owners of the clubs at the center of dispute did not comment on the proceedings, at least one argued that it was no big deal to allow clients to smoke instead, given what havoc could break lose if bouncers have to continually push belligerent party-goers out onto the sidewalk.
 
"We can kick them out, but we would be kicking people out all night long and starting altercations," M2 Ultra Lounge owner Joey Morissey told the News. "You don't want to risk having fights."

Morissey said the city should fine the individual offender, not the club. But reps for the city say the establishments should pay for "willful and continuous disregard" of the ban, which was first enacted in 2003 and fines offenders up to $2,000 for lighting up indoors.

"We looked at our data and felt like these businesses continue to flaunt that they break the law," Daniel Kass, acting deputy commissioner for environmental health, told the News. "They pay fines as a cost of doing business. We needed a new approach."  

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