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New York Threatens to Close "Smoke-easy"

Andrew Nagy
Posted: March 17, 2010

New York city's M2 Ultralounge, one of the largest, most popular nightclubs in Manhattan, is in danger of being shut down by the city for failing to comply with the city's strict smoking ban and, according to health officials, even promoting lighting up inside the club.

According to a New York Times report, the city went to trial with the posh club last week in a special administrative court used for the purpose of seizing property. If the city succeeds in shutting down M2, then it would be the first time a business has been closed for violating the smoking ban, according to the same report.

The city claims undercover inspectors, dressed in hip garb so as to infiltrate the elite M2 nightclub, spotted repeated instances of indoor smoking in the club, including customers smoking cigarettes on the dance floors. According to the report, one inspector claims a bouncer told her she could smoke near a back entrance of the club, while another said he could buy loose cigarettes in the men's bathroom.

Lawyers for the club argue the city's case is flawed, saying there is no way undercover inspectors could know whether or not bouncers tried to stop customers from smoking indoors.

Robert Bookman, the lawyer representing M2, told the New York Times that "the law is being misconstrued by the health department purposely to make it sound like it's an automatic violation for a club having a patron smoking on their premises. All the law says is that we have to make a good-faith effort to inform patrons that they were breaking the law, and not with a nod and a wink."

A decision to take action against M2 could come as early as tomorrow.

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