Crackdown on smoke-easies

Very, Very Uncool


New York City is trying to shut down the M2 Ultralounge, a popular nightclub on West 28th Street in Manhattan, because it allegedly tolerates drug use. The drug in question: tobacco.

If the health department succeeds in revoking the club's operating license, The New York Times reports, "it would be the first time the city had closed a business solely for flouting a ban on smoking." But it may not be the last. The Times notes that the case against the M2 was built by undercover agents who venture into reputed "smoke-easies" and "work into the wee hours, posing as patrons and hunting for tolerance of smoking by clubs' employees."

It's a tough job, and not everyone can do it. "Some of the clubs where smoking is going on tend to be very, very cool clubs," said Thomas Merrill, the health department's general counsel, "and a bunch of guys showing up in jackets tend to be very, very uncool." The department therefore recruited younger, hipper spies to narc on smoker-friendly venues.