Up In Smoke
Will a tough enforcement policy end the 'blind eye' arrangement at clubs?

After Socialistia, Beatrice Inn, and GoldBar were all slapped with smoking violations on the same day, NY Mag has the good sense to ask the Department of Heath if their taste in nightlife venues to inspect has gotten a bit more high-brow. The answer was yes, inspectors indeed have been conducting more late-night smoking checks at restaurants and bars.

According to official sources, Beatrice has repeated violations of the Smoke Free Air Act on its record and has ignored recommendations from the DOH to put up "No Smoking" signs. The Beatrice Inn received violations but was not closed. The Department may consider actions to revoke or suspend the establishment's permit should it continue to allow patrons to smoke, said an official statement.

For Beatrice -- a spot that made its name as the last smoke-filled dimly lit bastion of privacy in the city -- the Inn's recipe for success might spell disaster. The DOH crackdown came just days after a Page Six Magazine expose on 'smoking speakeasies', which named The Rose Bar, SubMercer, Home, Guesthouse, Citrine, and GoldBar as clubs that regularly turn their heads away from the smoke.

Of course every club denies the presence of smoking on the premises and says a security guard is charged with the sole task of putting out butts. However, ashtrays make an appearance at venues across the city since a club can be cited and fined for not supplying them to patrons...but wait, aren't they not supposed to be smoking in the first place? Call us crazy, but this logic seems flawed.

Even the city government is disillusioned about smoking in clubs: Mayor Bloomberg recently announced a 94% compliance rate. We don't know what clubs he is going to, but in our travels, as long as the cig is out of eyesight there isn't a problem.

Grub Street blogger Daniel Maurer was spot-on when he told Page Six Mag, "The exclusive spots do tend to let you smoke because it's an indication that anything goes and that the powers-that-be aren't going to snuff out a good time." Daniel McMullan, a columnist, added "There was a time when people were more uptight about enforcing the ban—and maybe they still are on the weekends, but if it's a weeknight or if you're at a private event, it's not really enforced."

While many occassional smokers simply long for the good ol' days where lighting up inside a venue was given the 'okay', it seems to us clubs have bigger fish to fry than a few smokers.