Topic: Ban Damage

Cig Taxes Will COST States Over $5 Billion This Year
04/22/2015
By PETER FRICKE
Tobacco companies and anti-smoking groups alike say that high cigarette taxes will cost governments billions of dollars this year as smugglers step in to meet consumer demand.
A study conducted by the Tax Foundation in February compares data from 2006 and 2013, and “finds that smuggling rates generally rise in states after they adopt large cigarette tax increases.” (RELATED: Cigarette Tax Increases Not Producing Desired Revenues)
“Public policies often have unintended consequences that outweigh their benefits,” the foundation explains, and “one consequence of high state cigarette tax rates has been increased smuggling as criminals procure discounted packs from low-tax states to sell in high-tax states.”
In New York, for instance, cigarette taxes have increased 190 percent since 2006, while smuggling has risen 62 percent. New York leads the nation in both categories, with a tax rate of $4.35 per pack and untaxed cigarettes making up an estimated 58 percent of the overall market. (RELATED: Study: Smugglers Help Smokers Evade High Cigarette Taxes)
The high rates of cigarette tax-evasion in New York and other high-tax states not only undermines the purpose of those taxes, but actually costs them around $5 billion per year in lost tax revenue, according to The New Tobacco Road, a website run by the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.
The claim is buttressed by a number of studies conducted in recent years by think tanks, including the Mackinac Center and the Tax Foundation, as well as research from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which projects that revenue losses will total roughly $5.5 billion in the U.S. this year.
Naturally, assertions made by the tobacco industry – or any industry, for that matter – are worth taking with a grain of salt, but in this case, they are seemingly vindicated by some of the industry’s staunchest opponents.(RELATED: Cigarette Taxes May Help Finance Terrorism)
The Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), a coalition of anti-smoking groups organized by the World Health Organization to promote tobacco control globally, estimates that, “illicit trade in cigarettes represents approximately 10.7 percent of global sales, or 600 billion cigarettes annually,” and reduces government revenues by between $40 billion and $50 billion per year.
The two lobbies even offer similar prescriptions for dealing with the problem of cigarette smuggling, with both groups urging harsher punishments and stronger enforcement measures. (RELATED: Illinois Boost Cigarette Tax, Police Promise to Hammer Evaders)
The FCA eschews specifics, calling simply for “a global effort … to ensure the application of appropriate penalties and effective enforcement strategies against all forms of illicit trade.” (ANTLE: Is Selling Untaxed Cigarettes Now A Capital Offense?)
New Tobacco Road, similarly, argues that, “The cost and risk of trafficking in tobacco products must be raised substantially,” and recommends imposing significant fines and penalties on smugglers, along with allocating more resources to enforcement. (Coulter: Dying For A Cigarette In New York)
In New York City in July 2014, Eric Garner died while being arrested for selling allegedly smuggled cigarettes.


New Info Shows that Rising Cigarette Taxes Helps Finance Terrorism
April 14, 2015
By Onan Coca
Actions have consequences. I think that is probably the wisdom to take from this latest research on the impact of cigarette sin taxes on the war on terror. Apparently, the rising taxes have forced many smokers to purchase their cancer sticks from the black market… which is helping to fund the very terrorists we are fighting.
So here’s a suggestion… cut taxes and take back some of that terrorist revenue.
Raising tobacco taxes is often seen as a way for states to boost revenue, but research shows the primary effect is to promote cigarette smuggling, some of which helps fund terrorist groups.
“The higher that revenue-hungry politicians raise tobacco taxes, the more profit smugglers can make,” claims Patrick Gleason, director of state affairs for Americans for Tax Reform, in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal Sunday.
An unintended consequence of such tax hikes, Gleason says, is therefore to encourage cigarette smuggling, which also “[directs] some money toward nefarious causes” such as terrorism.
In recent years, both the Washington Post and former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly have said there is evidence that smugglers are funneling millions of dollars from illegal cigarette sales to known terrorist groups, including al-Qaida.
Gleason notes recent cigarette tax hikes New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., among other places, have produced far less revenue than anticipated, and in some cases even correlated with an overall decrease in the amount collected.
In fact, he says, “Of the 32 state tobacco tax increases that went into effect between 2009 and 2013, only three met or exceeded revenue projections, according to industry data.”
In part, this may result from smokers reacting to the higher prices by reducing consumption, but Gleason suggests that a more significant factor is simply that “high tobacco taxes inevitably induce some low-income smokers to turn to black markets, where they can buy cigarettes at a fraction of the price.”
A recent study conducted by the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy research center, supports this view, finding that “smuggling rates generally rise in states after they adopt large cigarette tax increases.” Of the 17 states with a net outflow of smuggled cigarettes in 2013, just two imposed taxes of more than $1 per pack, and both of those states-Pennsylvania and New Hampshire-are located near neighbors with relatively high cigarette taxes.
In contrast, of the 15 states in which smuggled cigarettes accounted for 20 percent or more of total consumption, just two impose taxes of less than $1.50 per pack, while eight tax cigarettes at $2 or more per pack. “Public policies often have unintended consequences that outweigh their benefits,” the Foundation explains. “One consequence of high state cigarette tax rates has been increased smuggling as criminals procure discounted packs from low-tax states to sell in high-tax states.”
In New York, for instance, cigarette taxes have increased 190 percent since 2006, while smuggling has risen 62 percent. New York leads the nation in both categories, with a tax rate of $4.35 per pack and untaxed cigarettes making up an estimated 58 percent of the overall market.
The issue of cigarette smuggling in New York rose to prominence recently with the case of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by police officers who accused him of selling “loosies,” or single cigarettes, from packs without tax stamps.
Various policy responses have been suggested to address the issue of cigarette smuggling, ranging from “differential tax rates near low-tax jurisdictions” to “cracking down on tribal reservations that sell tax-free cigarettes,” but the underlying problem remains, according to the Tax Foundation, because “high cigarette taxes amount to a ?price prohibition’ of the product in many U.S. states.”


Protesters to Trade Loose Cigarettes for Donations in Times Square Protest
January 10, 2015
By Cassandra Rules
New York, NY – Outrage over Officer Daniel Pantaleo walking free after killing Eric Garner continues in New York City and protests will be continuing this Saturday.
This time its The Manhattan Libertarian Party jumping into action. The group intends to pass out single cigarettes in Times Square in exchange for donations. All money received will be given to Project Hospitality, a Staten Island food bank.
The protest is scheduled to begin Saturday, January 10, at 1pm at Broadway & W 47th St, on the North end of Times Square.
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Paul cites high cigarette taxes in death
12/4/14
By Lucy McCalmont
Republican Sen. Rand Paul says that politicians and taxes are to blame for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner.
“Obviously, the individual circumstances are important, but I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so they’ve driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive,” the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” He continued, “But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.’”
A New York City grand jury decided Wednesday not to return an indictment in the July death of Garner. The 43-year-old father of six died after being placed in a chokehold by a city police officer who was arresting him on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes. The grand jury’s decision sparked protests in New York City and an announcement from Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department is launching as separate federal investigation into Garner’s death.
Paul said police are put in “a difficult situation,” but added there is “no excuse” for Garner’s death.
“For someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it,” Paul said. “But I do blame the politicians. We put our police in a difficult situation with bad laws.”

Rand Paul blames Eric Garner’s death on high NYC cigarette tax
December 4, 2014
By Sara Fischer, CNN
In 2010, the New York State Legislature passed a law raising taxes on cigarettes purchased in New York City to $5.85 per pack of 20 cigarettes.
Fast-forward four years: A U.S. senator is blaming the politician that created that law for the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in New York City in July 2014.
“I do blame the politician,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, explained on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” “We put our police in a dangerous situation with bad laws.”
Garner died after a police officer put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him for selling tax-free cigarettes. The police officers at the time were unaware of Garner’s pre-existing health conditions that likely helped lead to his death.
On Wednesday, Paul said Garner’s death would have been prevented if the law creating New York City’s high cigarette taxes — the highest in the country — wasn’t created.
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Yes, Stupid Laws Help Kill People
DECEMBER 4, 2014
By David Harsanyi
After news of the baffling decision by the New York grand jury not to indict a police officer in the killing of Eric Garner, I sent out a (slightly) hyperbolic tweet that wondered why Americans would want to entrust their free speech and health care to an institution that will kill you over failure to pay a cigarette tax.
If they can kill you over a cigarette tax, why would you trust them to run the internet, regulate your speech and choose your health care?
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Listen Up, Liberals: Make Everything Illegal, Create More Eric Garners
Dec. 5, 2014
By Robby Soave
In comparison to the Michael Brown shooting, the death of Eric Garner-and the similar decision not to indict the cop who killed him-has drawn outrage from across the political spectrum. Many conservatives, including Breitbart’s John Nolte,The Federalist’s Sean Davis, and The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis, agreed with anti-police-brutality libertarians and liberals that Garner’s killer should have faced charges. The consensus is that the video evidence definitively established wrongdoing on the part of the officer (unlike the Brown case, which relied on conflicting eyewitness testimony).
But because that’s no fun, right and left had to find some way to tear each other apart over this. And so the contention-made by some libertarians and conservatives-that punitive cigarette taxes are a contributing factor in Garner’s death has driven many on the left into a fit of rage.
Some background on that contention, courtesy Reason’s J.D. Tuccille:
Here we have Garner, a guy allegedly selling loosies-single cigarettes-which are a perfectly legal product. Why is he supposedly selling loosies? Because New York officials inflict on their long-suffering subjects the highest cigarette tax in the country at at $4.35 per pack, plus another $1.50 levied in the city itself. It’s not a popular tax, with smuggled smokes making up 60.9 percent of the market. So the powers that be unleash the cops to enhance revenue by tracking down shipments of smuggled cigarettes and, on occasion, putting the occasional small-time street vendor in an illegal chokehold.
On his show last night, Jon Stewart mocked Sen. Rand Paul for making that point. When asked about Garner’s death, Paul said: “Some politician put a tax of $5.85 on cigarettes, so they have driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive, but then some politician also had to direct the police to say, hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.”
Stewart’s response: “What the fuck are you talking about?”
BuzzFeed’s Adam Serwer also criticized the point (though more kindly), in a Twitter argument with Reason’s Scott Shackford. “I think ‘it’s the cigarette tax’ is comforting because then we don’t have to deal with the racism, which we know isn’t getting fixed easily,” wrote Serwer.
Media Matters was as nasty as could have been expected, publishing an email update on the matter under the vindictive headline: “Right-Wing Media Parrot Rand Paul’s Absurd Assertion That Cigarette Taxes Are To Blame For Eric Garner’s Death.”
And the most eloquent critic of the cigarette argument, The New Republic’s Danny Vinik, wrote:
In other words, Eric Garner is not dead because New York City imposes high cigarette taxes. He’s dead because a cop put him in a chokehold, in violation of NYPD rules, and held his head against ground. To their credit, conservatives have widely denounced the grand jury’s decision. If they want to argue against cigarette taxes, though, they should make that full argument-including that the law can cause violent confrontations between police and civilians. But pointing to Garner’s death as evidence that those taxes are bad policy isn’t meaningful.
Look, police brutality has many underlying causes. One of them is undoubtedly racism; black people are disproportionately arrested and imprisoned. An encounter between a cop and a civilian is more likely to be unpleasant if the civilian is black. In fact, it’s more likely to occur in the first place if the civilian is black, because many cops racially profile suspects.
Another cause is the police incentive structure. Police have far more legal protections than non-police. They can get away with so much more. Indeed, while the cop who killed Garner evaded indictment, a civilian who recorded the incident on his phone was indicted on a separate weapons charge. It’s difficult-often impossible-to punish police for bad behavior, which gives the bad apples free rein to abuse people.
You know what’s also a cause? Overcriminalization. And that one is on you, supporters of the regulatory super state. When a million things are highly regulated or outright illegal-from cigarettes to sodas of a certain size, unlicensed lemonade stands, raw milk, alcohol (for teens), marijuana, food trucks, taxicab alternatives, and even fishing supplies (in schools)-the unrestrained, often racist police force has a million reasons to pick on people. Punitive cigarette taxes, which disproportionately fall on the backs of the poorest of the poor, contribute to police brutality in the exact same way that the war on drugs does. Liberals readily admit the latter; why is the former any different?
If you want all these things to be illegal, you must want-by the very definition of the wordillegal-the police to force people not to have them. Government is a gang of thugs who are paid to push us around. It’s their job.
A well-meaning liberal who doesn’t want people to smoke but also doesn’t want the government to kill them for doing so has plenty of other options, by the way. There are countless organizations and products dedicated to helping people quit cigarettes voluntarily.
But anybody who wants it to be a matter of law must accept that resistance will be met with fines, prison, and death. As Bloomberg View columnist and law professor Stephen L. Carter put it:
It’s not just cigarette tax laws that can lead to the death of those the police seek to arrest. It’s every law. Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they’re right.
There are many painful lessons to be drawn from the Garner tragedy, but one of them, sadly, is the same as the advice I give my students on the first day of classes: Don’t ever fight to make something illegal unless you’re willing to risk the lives of your fellow citizens to get your way.
Any subsequent conversation about ending police brutality should include strategies to combat racism, reforming the criminal justice system and police incentive structure… andtaming the maniacal leviathan that is the modern regulatory state.

The Role that Obama’s Runaway Bureaucracy Played in the Death of Eric Garner
December 3, 2014
By Bryan Preston
Before anyone jumps the gun and suggests that I’m blaming Barack Obama for the death of Eric Garner, read on. I’m not.
As New York City prepares for protests – hopefully peaceful – after the grand jury’s decision not to indict in the death of Eric Garner, it’s worth a look at how we got here.
Garner reportedly had many prior arrests, which means that he was known to the NYPD and may have been known to the officers on the scene who took him down the day he died, July 17, 2014.
Why did they decide to take him down in the first place? That’s not clear even in the video. The video of his death is unfortunately too short, and starts after the confrontation has already started. The narrator says he is being “beaten up” just for “breaking up a fight,” but that appears to be inaccurate. Garner starts off in the video showing anger that the police have confronted him repeatedly, over time, not just that day. He does not appear to be threatening anyone, and according to reports had in fact just stopped a fight between other people. So it’s not clear why the police elected to use force on him. A citation would probably have sufficed.
But a citation for what?
Garner was reportedly selling “loosies,” individual cigarettes taken out of their original packaging. That’s a crime?
Yep. Since 2010, that’s a crime, sayeth the unaccountable bureaucrats at the Food and Drug Administration.
An FDA rule issued on June 22, 2010 – well within the Obama era, under a president who has unleashed bureaucracy on the entire country – mandates that individual cigarettes cannot be sold without their original packaging. You must not sell an unhealthy product that everyone knows is unhealthy unless it’s still in the polluting box that it originally came in.
If you sell cigarettes, you must comply with the following bullet points. Note the bold.
?Check photo ID of everyone appearing under age 27 who attempts to purchase cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, or smokeless tobacco.
?Only sell cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and smokeless tobacco to anyone age 18 or older. **
?Only sell cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and smokeless tobacco in a direct, face-to-face exchange. ***
?Do NOT break open cigarette or smokeless tobacco packages to sell products in smaller amounts.
?Do NOT sell cigarette packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes.
?Do NOT sell single cigarettes, also called “loosies”.
?Do NOT give away free samples of cigarettes.
?Do NOT give away free samples of smokeless tobacco except from a “qualified adult-only facility.”
?Do NOT sell flavored cigarettes or flavored cigarette tobacco (other than menthol).
* This is only a summary of the laws. For the full list of federal laws, visit: www.fda.gov/BreakTheChain.
Selling and buying loosies is about avoiding taxes. Garner was being a fringe entrepreneur. That’s not to say that he’s a hero. He appears to have been a guy on the make. What he was doing was illegal and he knew that. None of that justifies the force used on him, but it’s important to keep in mind that the 43 year old was well overweight and actually died not of choking, but of a heart attack. Obviously the heart attack was influenced by the arrest. Could the police have predicted that taking him down would end up killing him? Intent to kill doesn’t appear to be in play in the video. That rules murder out. But there will be a federal investigation.
The strongest charge that the grand jury could possibly have handed down to the officer was some form of manslaughter or negligent homicide, and that might have been appropriate. The force used looks excessive. But the grand jury decided against that after reviewing the evidence, which means a jury was even less likely to convict. That doesn’t mean that they’re right. Seems like a marginal call either way. Seems like a bad call for the police to take him down by force. I don’t see why they couldn’t have given him a ticket, unless there are relevant events that we don’t know about that happened prior to the video.
It also is a bad call to let the FDA start creating new crimes, but President Obama has made a bad habit of turning the government loose on the whole country, and then daring courts to stop him. He’s a terrible president that way, and disrespects the rule of law and the rights of individuals to have any kind of certainty where we all stand with respect to the law at any given moment. Obama’s unleashing of the bureaucracy is among his most detestable actions. The next president has got to work with Congress to rein the unruly and power-hungry federal bureaucracy back in, or we all really are going to become felons in one way or another. We all will be subject to capricious and arbitrary law enforcement, which is really lawlessness and oppression.
Eric Garner died protesting (or evading, take your pick) taxes, along with violating the diktats of a bureaucratic government that has grown too remote from the people and too oppressive not just over black men, whose lives do matter and is among the reasons that the pro-life movement exists, but over all Americans. We are all subjects to the bureaucracy’s whims, and less and less true citizens as the bureaucracy grows more powerful. Garner didn’t need to die for that, he shouldn’t have died for that, but the officers involved aren’t guilty of murder.
May the protests remain peaceful.


4 hurt as party floor caves in

By KENNETH GARGER
February 5, 2012
Four people were injured last night at a Brooklyn rave when the floor of an outdoor smoking area collapsed, authorities said.
The party, featuring DJ Fruit Loop, at the Slave Theater on Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant ended at 10:30 p.m. after the victims fell 10 feet into a cellar.
“I went outside for a cigarette and the whole bottom fell out,” said Zach Giambalyo, 27, of Long Island.
“The cement started falling on us. People were freaking out,” he said.
All victims suffered minor injures.


NJ woman chides NYC smoker, gets stabbed with pen
Apr 20, 2011
NEW YORK – A New Jersey woman was stabbed in the face with a pen on a New York City subway train after she tried to stop a man from lighting a cigarette.
The assault occurred on a crowded No. 3 train near the Chambers Street station during Tuesday's morning rush.
Witnesses told the Daily News and the New York Post that an argument quickly escalated when Evelyn Seeger asked the man not to smoke. The witnesses say two riders were trying to restrain the man when he pulled out a pen and slashed Seeger's face.
Seeger, of Nutley, N.J., was treated at a hospital and released.
Police charged the man with felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

City Tries to Shut Club It Says Flouts Smoking Ban
By DIANE CARDWELL
March 14, 2010
The Bloomberg administration is moving closer to shutting one of the largest and busiest nightclubs in the city, as part of an aggressive new strategy to revoke the operating licenses of clubs that health officials believe promote smoking.
The nightclub, the M2 UltraLounge on West 28th Street in Manhattan, went on trial last week at a special administrative court that the city uses when it seeks to take away property. If the case against the club succeeds, it would be the first time the city had closed a business solely for flouting a ban on smoking.
City officials have also moved to take several other clubs before the court, seeking to revoke their food and beverage licenses. It has been an open secret for years among the late-night set that there is a network of so-called smoke-easies throughout the city, from little neighborhood dives to glossy, exclusive bo?tes, that let patrons smoke illegally.
Health department officials say that the vast majority of businesses comply with the 2002 law forbidding smoking in clubs and bars, but that inspectors have struggled to enforce it at a handful of high-end places that seem to market themselves as smoker-friendly, some even offering loose cigarettes for sale.
Generally, health officials have looked for signs of active tobacco use as part of their inspections concerning other rules, like those for food safety, and have cited clubs for violations that often result in fines of $200 to $2,000.
But they have had difficulty gaining access to the clubs when patrons are actually smoking.
“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,” said Thomas Merrill, general counsel for the health department.
So in recent months, the department has deputized a team of inspectors — many of them younger and hipper-looking than the stereotypical bureaucrat — to work into the wee hours, posing as patrons and hunting for tolerance of smoking by clubs’ employees.
Because the inspectors found many instances of patrons smoking without being asked to stop, the department petitioned the administrative court, the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, known as OATH, to recommend revoking the food and beverage licenses of 16 bars and clubs.
“We found places with repeated nights of smoking, with sort of flagrant violations — selling cigarettes, clearly creating an atmosphere in which smoking appeared to be tolerated or even welcomed,” said Daniel Kass, the acting deputy commissioner for environmental health. “Those places are clearly not responding to the idea that we’re going to fine them periodically for violations.”
Five of the clubs have settled with the city, typically agreeing to devise a plan for correction and to pay for any violations, health officials said.
In all but one of the cases, if inspectors find indications of continued smoking during the next year, they can immediately shut the club down and bring it to trial.
Two clubs closed for other reasons, and most of the rest, including the downtown spots Lit Lounge, the Box, Tenjune and Southside, are weighing possible settlements against a looming trial date, city officials said.
The M2 case has gone the furthest. The administrative law judge hearing the case, Alessandra F. Zorgniotti, will make a ruling that will serve as a recommendation to the health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley.
In the trial, which could end as early as Thursday, the city has introduced photos of people with cigarette packs on their tables or with burning cigarettes held aloft on the dance floor.
One inspector testified that a bouncer told her she could smoke in a back area near an exit door; another said he was able to buy a loose cigarette for $2 from a collection of items for sale in the men’s bathroom.
But lawyers for the club say the city’s case is flawed, arguing that the undercover inspectors could not know whether the staff had tried to get patrons to stop smoking. The club, which has been under new management since July, submitted reports showing that bouncers had ejected at least two patrons for smoking, and Robert Bookman, a lawyer representing M2, said it had fired the two employees who had been selling loose cigarettes in the bathroom.
“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,” Mr. Bookman said. “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.”
He added that investigators had found only a few smokers on each of their visits to the club, which can hold thousands of people. “Not only do the numbers bear out that this is not a smoking lair,” he said, “but it shows that they are in fact doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Mr. Bookman also criticized the city for not going after the smokers themselves, saying that officials were accusing employees of doing what the inspectors do when they see smoking, “which is not doing anything.”
Health officials contend that their obligation is to ensure that the clubs they license follow the law, and that cracking down on the clubs is a more effective deterrent. “The entity is the repeat offender,” Mr. Kass said. “On any given night there might be one person, or 2 people or 10 people or even way more than that, who on their own are welcomed to smoke or allowed to smoke, but they’re not necessarily back the next night.”

Health Dept. to yank permits of nightclubs that scoff at New York City's cigarette smoking ban
January 27th 2010
BY Samuel Goldsmith, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
It may be closing time for some of Manhattan's hottest nightclubs, where the young and hip are arrogantly flouting the city's smoking ban.
The Health Department is moving to shutter five A-list clubs after an undercover sting showed they let their high-flying clientele light up inside again and again.
The velvet-rope violators include TheBox on the lower East Side and Chelsea's M2 Ultra Lounge, which just last week hosted Sean (Diddy) Combs' blowout bash for his son's 16th birthday, officials said.
The clubs are scheduled to appear today before a city tribunal, where officials will try to yank their food and beverage permits – a fatal blow that would put the kibosh on alcohol sales.
The move is by far the city's most aggressive attempt to crack down on bars and clubs that turn a not-so-blind eye when their customers crave a smoke.
"We looked at our data and felt like these businesses continue to flaunt that they break the law," said Daniel Kass, acting deputy commissioner for environmental health. "They pay fines as a cost of doing business. We needed a new approach."
Kass dispatched teams of sharply dressed spies to the clubs, where they nursed drinks – and looked for smokers.
"We went out and stumbled upon some pretty flagrant disregards for the law, and decided we weren't interested in settling with these establishments," Kass said.
After the ban was implemented in 2003, bars busted for smoking were fined $200 to $2,000.
Not this time.
A city judge will decide whether the Health Department has enough evidence to pull the clubs' permits for "willful and continuous disregard" of the ban.
"We think we have a good case," said department lawyer Thomas Merrill. "I think we will shut them down."
Other clubs on the hot seat are The Imperial in the Flatiron District, Southside Night Club in Little Italy and Lit Lounge in the East Village.
A handful of others will be named by the city in the coming weeks.
The most egregious offender is M2 Ultra Lounge, the department said. Undercover inspectors found dozens of smokers in plain sight during five recent visits – and even bathroom attendants selling loose cigarettes for $2.
"The cigarettes are out in the open, you just have to ask for one," said one inspector.
M2 Ultra Lounge owner Joey Morrissey said he gains nothing by having smoking in his club and has tried everything to stop it except take away cigarettes or toss out offenders.
"We can kick them out, but we would be kicking people out all night long and starting altercations," Morrissey said. "You don't want to risk having fights."
Morrissey said the city can do more to help, like ticketing people who smoke at the club instead of punishing the establishment.
"You're not going to find someone in a club this big," he said of the 35,000-square-foot space.
Other owners simply denied that smoking goes on in their clubs or said they would not comment on the issue.
"I think this is a witch hunt and there are a lot more things that affect our city than people occasionally lighting up," said Southside owner Tom Martignetti.
The club's Web site has several pictures that seem to show clients smoking at the bar.
"Obviously we have a no-smoking policy," Martignetti said. "There's no smoking here."

Following Expose, Smoking Crackdown Begins Anew
January 26, 2010
by Scott Solish
Six years after Mayor Bloomberg had smoking banned from restaurants and bars, it became apparent that some venues had decided that ignorance was bliss and began to let their customers light up again. For the most part, the rule has been positively received by owners and customers, but both groups thought that they were a few ways that the ban could be improved beyond having inspectors trying to catch smokers in the act. Following an expos? in the Times that named names, it appears that the city has declined the improvement path, opting instead to crack some skulls.
A somber Steve Lewis reports:
Nightclubs are being inspected by teams of cops and health department mercenaries constantly and it’s beginning to get ugly. An operator has told me that you can expect a visit at least every other day. Another told me it’s not the visits that are bad, but the attitude. They are carrying cameras and are being very rude to both staff and patrons.
You'd probably have a bad attitude too if your boss kept sending you to the same nightclubs at all hours of the night every other day to see if twenty somethings were smoking. Expect the inspections to go on until they think the clubs have learned their lessons, at which time customers will begin lighting up again.

The Privacy of Smoke
January 14th, 2010
By Waiter
It’s a crisp winter’s night and I’m strolling though U nion Square in Lower Manhattan. I’m supposed to be meeting a friend for dinner but when she texts to say she’s running late I suddenly discover I’ve got forty-five minutes to kill. So I duck into a cigar shop, select a Punch Maduro Rothschild from the humidor, snip off the end and walk back into the park. Finding a quiet corner I get the stogie going with a wooden match and settle back to enjoy my favorite pastime – people watching. Unfortunately, people are also watching me.
“That’s disgusting,” a smartly dressed young woman says as she walks past me.
“I beg your pardon?” I reply.
“You look obnoxious smoking that cigar,” she says.
I look at the woman balefully. She’s your prototypical New York babe – cute, dressed in black from head to toe, holding a cup of Starbucks coffee with an iPod plugged into her head.
“I may look obnoxious, dear,” I reply. “But you sound obnoxious.”
“What did you say?” the woman says, popping her headphones out of her ears. I repeat myself.
“What the…” she stammers.
“Have a nice night, Miss.”
The woman looks at me flabbergasted. She tries coming up with a witty comeback, fails, and walks briskly away. I shake my head. It takes all kinds.
Smoking’s bad for you. Don’t ever take it up. Quit if you can. But for me tobacco is like a dysfunctional ex-girlfriend you can’t let go off. Even though you know seeing her is bad for you, when times are tough you find yourself calling her at three in the morning anyway. One day I won’t need these things, but right now my flesh is mighty weak.
I walk over to a construction site and prop myself up against a concrete wall. I get in a whole five minutes of quiet time when a man and woman pushing a baby stroller stop alongside me.
“Can you move somewhere else with that thing?” the man says.
“Excuse me?” I say.
“The smoke,” he says, smiling passive aggressively, “It’s not good for the baby.”
“You don’t say.”
“I’d appreciate if you moved.”
New Yorkers are obsessed with real estate. I once knew a man whose father died from a massive heart attack. The next day, when he went to his father’s place on the West Side to sort though the paperwork, he discovered the landlord had already rented the place and changed the locks. Unfortunately for the landlord the son was a lawyer – and a grieving, pissed off lawyer at that. So Manhattanites turning feral to claim a square meter of asphalt in a public place doesn’t surprise me.
“I was standing here first,” I reply, calmly. “You came up to me.”
“But…….”
“If you were here first,” I continue, “I wouldn’t dream of smoking next to your child.”
The man stares at me lamely. I feel like busting him about his “man bag” but decide against it. Could be for diapers. No use escalating things.
“C’mon honey,” the man says to his wife. “Let’s go.”
“You’re a jerk,” the wife hisses as she walks away. Calm down babe. All that negative energy can’t be good for junior. I look at my watch. I’ve been smoking this thing for six minutes and have been insulted twice. From the reactions I’m getting you’d think I brought an assault rifle to an Obama rally.
I stay on station and puff away. Another woman walks by and breaks into a paroxysm of exaggerated coughing. I ignore her. She coughs some more. I just look at her and smile.
“Those things will kill you,” she says.
“Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” I ask.
“What?”
“Would you like to pray with me?
The woman rushes off in terror.. My mom grew up in Spanish Harlem and the Bronx and gave me an invaluable piece of advice for dealing with people in New York – if someone’s bugging you just act crazy. I’ve modified her approach somewhat. Public displays of religiosity work just as well as feigning psychosis.
I expel a mouth full of smoke and contemplate what a weird town New York is. People will walk past a naked bum shivering in the streets or a woman sobbing on a street corner but they’ll take time out to castigate a man smoking a cigar. A helluva town. I hope I can finish my smoke before I get stoned to death.
I start shivering so I decide to walk. The sidewalks are thronged with people. Not being totally inconsiderate of my cigar’s effects I walk alongside the curb. But when I notice that people are swerving to avoid me I decide to perform a little experiment. I move into the middle of the sidewalk with my cigar firmly planted in my mouth. The dirty looks I get are legion but the flow of people part ahead of me like the Red Sea before Moses’ staff.
For the next half hour no one else bothers me. Happy and content I continue my walk around the square, cocooned in the opprobrious privacy of smoke.


Violations of city's smoking ban rise by a third
October 19, 2008
By Marlene Naanes
That haze hanging over the bar late at night isn’t just a beer fog.
Violations for smoking inside bars and restaurants jumped by a third in the past year, which comes as no surprise to nonsmokers, who complain that bartenders are increasingly blowing off the five-year-old smoking ban.
The health department said the bump follows a jump in inspectors conducting late-night checks. But some bargoers say the numbers reflect what they can smell on their clothes each night.
“I go out a lot, and I definitely notice it…all over the place,” said Susan Siegel, a Manhattan resident who says bars and clubs on the Lower East Side and in the Meatpacking District are the worst offenders. “I hate smoking in bars.”
And nonsmokers say it’s about to get worse: As winter approaches, the prime season for illegal indoor smoking is set to begin.
The number of smoking violations doled out to bars and restaurants increased to 917 infractions in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, compared to 694 in the same period the year before. Health department inspectors started going out later at night when places are more likely to allow patrons, or even employees, to light up, a spokeswoman said.
“The last thing a restaurant owner is going to think is an inspector is going to be there,” said Celina De Leon, a health department spokeswoman, who added that inspectors can be out as late as 4 a.m.
She would not speculate if people’s behavior changed.
“There’s no way to know if this happens at all bars at night,” she said. “We’re not there 24-7.”
While smoky bars still exist, some smokers insist they are by no means easy to find.
Mark Benkes was smoking outside a bar on the Lower East Side on a recent night, and he perhaps put it best: "You'll find people doing blow more openly than smoking."
Still, smokers say plenty of renegade bars exist, especially on the Lower East Side, but people treat them like a secret stash of joy. Gavin Motnyk, 28, said he knew of several places where people smoke, and he even offered to take a reporter and photographer to one, but then backtracked.
Motnyk said he does not mind the ban because smoking less saves him money, but he complained about how the regulation is making bar owners treat their smoking customers.
"When you smoke outside, there's more noise outside," he said. "They make smokers go 100 feet, 50 feet down the block."
While drinking holes still flout the anti-smoking regulation, the height of violations occurred during the first two years of the ban. In 2003 and 2004, smoking violations made up about 11 percent of restaurant inspections, while now it represents only 6 percent.
Still, Siegel says indoor smoking is rampant, and has even felt the urge to demand that a SoHo bar pay her dry cleaning bill. Sometimes she cannot get staff — who sometimes smoke themselves — to stop smokers, despite fines ranging from $200 to $2,000.
“I go up to people,” she said. “It’s the law and I feel like I have a right to say something.”
Jed Kim contributed to this report.
Top smoking ban violators
Establishment: Number of violations
Florio's Restaurant & Pizzeria 21
192 Grand St.
Manhattan
World Cup Night Club 20
13431 35th Ave.
Queens
Cafe Korza 20
652 E. 187th Street
Bronx
18 Club 19
131-66 40th Road
Queens
Portofino Caf? 18
2008 Williamsbridge Road
Bronx
Kalymnos Society 18
2403 31st St.
Queens
Havana Dreams Cigar Lounge 18
6310 Woodhaven Blvd
Queens
Queens Village 18
220-27 Jamaica Ave.
Queens
Home 16
542 W. 27th St.
Manhattan
Coco Bar 16
131-37 A 41st Ave.
Queens
Source: New York City Department of Health
* For the year through August 2008
Violations are largely for smoking indoors, but some reflect the presence of ashtrays and the absence of no-smoking signs.
**********
The number of smoking violations by fiscal year*:
Number of Number of Violation rate
Violations Inspections
2008 917 14,399 6.4 percent
2007 694 20,006 3.5 percent
2006 481 23,429 2.1 percent
2005 437 25,471 1.7 percent
2004 3,091 26,765 11.5 percent
2003 2,268 21,781 10.4 percent
Source: New York City Department of Health
The period covers July 1 through June 30
**********
Smokeless tobacco offers an increasingly popular and legal way to get a nicotine fix at bars and restaurants.
Sales of chew, dip and other forms of smokeless tobacco soared nationally by about 26 percent as cigarette sales dropped by almost 14 percent, according to a recent Harvard School of Public Health study that surveyed its use from 2000-06. The study partially attributed the growth to clean indoor-air policies.
Less messier types of smokeless tobacco, such as teabag-like Snus, as well as lower sales taxes compared to cigarettes, also contributed to the increase, particularly among young people, the study found.
— Marlene Naanes


Woman falls 4 stories from midtown building – but lives
NY Daily News
April 27th 2008
?(NYC) — A 34-year-old woman smoking a cigarette out of a window in midtown lost her balance and plunged four stories – but survived – officials said.
The woman, who was not identified, suffered head trauma but was listed in stable condition at St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan after the fall just before 4 a.m., police said.
"She was smoking out the window and fell," said Jake Podhradsky, 23, who lives in the fourth-floor apartment on W. 37th St., where the woman was visiting her brother from Delaware.
FDNY officials said the woman fell into a narrow alleyway between two buildings and was conscious when emergency medical technicians arrived.
"She was apologizing to the EMTs," said witness Eric Nicastro, 27. "It's unbelievable to fall four floors and be about as good as you could be."

An Englishman in New York
March 31, 2008
"I used to like living in New York. There was diversity, excitement, opportunity, tolerance and freedom. However, in the 18 years I've been a New Yorker, I've watched the city change into a city of over-policing, prohibition, persecution and sterilisation that neither makes sense nor appeals to me anymore.
"I have survived and tolerated so much in this city – crime, evil landlords, high rents, a crash in the local economy, 9/11 – but the smoking ban, introduced in 2003, was the final straw."
The Free Society blog

CIG BAN? WHAT CIG BAN?
CITY HOT SPOTS SMOKING AGAIN
By ANGELA MONTEFINISE
May 27, 2007
While Mayor Bloomberg tries to make the world safe from greenhouse gases, his cigarette ban is going up in smoke.
Scores of trendy clubs and neighborhood pubs across the five boroughs have become smoking speakeasies, where bartenders and bouncers regularly ignore the prohibition launched in 2003.
The Post spotted scofflaw smokers openly puffing away in a dozen bars and clubs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island during the past few weeks – including celebrity hangouts Bungalow 8, Tenjune, Butter, Marquee, Plumm and Guest House.
The violations The Post witnessed include:
* A bartender and 15 patrons smoking all night inside Doyle's Corner bar in Astoria on the rainy night of May 16. The same scenario was witnessed several weeks earlier.
* A half-dozen hipster patrons at Brooklyn Ale House in Williamsburg smoking openly at the bar and at back tables early Saturday morning.
* A bartender at Boat in Brooklyn saying, "It's 12:30. You can smoke now," as they passed out makeshift ashtrays last Wednesday night.
Earlier, she told a patron to stop smoking, but after her announcement, a number of patrons started up again and the bar was filled with smokers for another hour.
* Dozens of smokers puffing on the dance floor and in the VIP area at the Marquee club on back-to-back nights as security guards looked the other way last week.
* At least 10 people smoking in Chelsea's small, exclusive club Bungalow 8 Thursday night. A security guard walked past the smokers to tell The Post, "You can't take pictures in here."
* Half the patrons of the Annadale Inn in Staten Island lighting up in the wee hours after the bartender closed the window gate to keep out prying eyes several weeks ago.
* Several smokers blowing smoke in the small basement of Lit Lounge on Second Avenue last week.
"They used to" enforce the smoking ban, Brett, a Marquee regular, told The Post last week. "But they barely pay attention now."
Smoking has been prohibited in bars, nightclubs and restaurants since March 2003, after the Bloomberg initiative became law in the fall of 2002.
Establishments are responsible for prohibiting smoking indoors, putting up "no smoking" signs and eliminating all ashtrays. Smokers are not punished.
Fines of up to $2,000 can be issued for every violation, and after three in one year businesses could lose their licenses. From April 2006 to March 2007, nine businesses were permanently shut due to smoking.
The city Department of Health said most businesses have been compliant, although there are violators. "We can't be everywhere all the time," a spokeswoman said.
Agency statistics show 199 establishments hit with 542 violations from April 2006 to March 2007, compared to 162 establishments getting 258 violations in the prior 12-month period. The number of complaints dropped from about 3,000 to 2,000 from last year to this year.
"It's a lose-lose," said an employee of a popular club on West 27th Street. "If we send people outside to smoke, people in the neighborhood got annoyed about the noise. If we let them smoke inside, we get hit with fines."
Allowing smoking indoors is "the lesser of two evils," he said.
Katie Browne, 26, a New Jersey paralegal and frequent clubgoer, said she has noticed a rise in smoking at nightspots over the past year.
"I hate it. My clothes are back to smelling like smoke, and it's gross," she said. "But there's no doubt about it – smoking's back."


Queens bar owner accused of $100 bribery over smoking violation

 

12/18/2007
By MARCUS FRANKLIN

 

NEW YORK (AP) — A bar owner who tried to bribe a health inspector by leaving cash in a bathroom so he wouldn't be cited for violating the city's indoor smoking ban has been arrested, city investigators said.

 

Brendan J. McCartan, who owns the Hill Tap Tavern, was being held Tuesday pending an appearance in Queens Criminal Court on a charge of third-degree bribery. If convicted of the felony, McCartan, 60, could face up to seven years in prison.

 

McCartan is accused of offering $100 to an undercover investigator who was posing Monday as a health inspector, the Department of Investigation said.

 

Earlier, an inspector for the health department, which enforces the smoking ban in bars and restaurants, had seen customers smoking and told Department of Investigation officials that McCartan had tried to bribe him, the DOI said.

 

After the undercover investigator smelled cigarette smoke and saw customers smoking inside the tavern, he confronted McCartan, the DOI said. The owner "asked the investigator to give him a break and said he would give the undercover investigator 'one,'" it said.

 

For clarification, the undercover investigator asked McCartan, "One hundred dollars?"

 

McCartan replied, "Yes," according to the DOI.

 

McCartan, who also told the undercover he didn't want any violations, said he would leave the money in the men's room, and the undercover went into the men's room after McCartan and found five $20 bills on the sink, the DOI said.

 

"Paying off a municipal employee is not the cost of doing business in this city," Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said.

 

Attorney information for McCartan wasn't immediately available before his arraignment Tuesday. A woman who answered the telephone at his bar said she didn't know anything about the DOI's allegations and no one else there could comment before Wednesday.

 

McCartan's arrest was part of the DOI's ongoing undercover investigation of bribes by bar and restaurant owners to avoid health code violations.

 

Last month, the owner of a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan was arrested on a charge of trying to pay an undercover investigator $200 to avoid health code violations.

 

City officials said violations at the restaurant included a roach carcass in a sugar bin, uncovered meat on shelves, wrapped meat on the floor and the preparation of sushi by employees who weren't wearing gloves.

NYPD DAILY BLOTTER
By JAMIE SCHRAM
September 28, 2007
An elderly Sheepshead Bay man slashed his roommate after an argument over cigarette smoke got out of hand, authorities said yesterday.
Vitally Zhikharav, 70, confronted the 35-year- old victim smoking in the yard of their East 13th Street home near Avenue Z at 2:10 p.m. Wednesday, sources said.
Zhikharav complained about the smoke, but the victim allegedly blew him off.
Zhikharav allegedly became enraged, grabbed a knife and slashed the victim in the stomach, inflicting minor injuries.
The victim called 911, and Zhikharav was arrested and charged with assault, menacing and weapon possession.

 


The war on secondhand smoke continues
By VALERIE BAUMAN
September 23 2007
ALBANY, N.Y. — Smokers, already pushed outside in New York, may be getting more grief than usual for lighting up in public places thanks to a new ad campaign designed to discourage smoking around children.

 


Angered By Lit Cigarette,Pulls Knife
August 17, 2007
By Howard Schwach
A Manhattan man on his way to the beach with his boogie board, angered that another subway rider held a lit cigarette, pulled a knife and chased the smoker towards the beach, police say. Police sources told The Wave that Warren Lavan, of 169 Marks Avenue in Manhattan, came out of the Beach 90 Street subway station at about 10 a.m. on Wednesday, August 15.

 


Store clerk charged in phony burglary
August 16, 2007
Saugerties – A clerk has been accused of stealing money and cigarettes from a Mobil service station on the New York State Thruway in Saugerties and reporting a bogus burglary to police to cover the crime.
Police said Danielle Nicklaus, 19, of Saugerties, reported a burglary at the Thruway’s Malden Service Area at 3 a.m. Sunday. The proceeds from the previous five shifts had been stolen, as well as cartons of cigarettes from a nearby storage room. On investigation, police said they suspected Nicklaus had staged the burglary with another former employee of the store. The majority of the money and cigarettes were recovered.
Nicklaus and Donald Hillie Jr., 23, of Klackatom, were each charged with third-degree burglary, a felony.
Nicklaus and Hillie were arraigned and sent to Ulster County Jail on $10,000 bail each.

 


Cig Ban?? What Cig Ban?
May 27th, 2007
By Angela Montefinise
While Mayor Bloomberg tries to make the world safe from greenhouse gases, his cigarette ban is going up in smoke.
Scores of trendy clubs and neighborhood pubs across the five boroughs have become smoking speakeasies, where bartenders and bouncers regularly ignore the prohibition launched in 2003.
The Post spotted scofflaw smokers openly puffing away in a dozen bars and clubs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island during the past few weeks – including celebrity hangouts Bungalow 8, Tenjune, Butter, Marquee, Plumm and Guest House.
The violations The Post witnessed include:
* A bartender and 15 patrons smoking all night inside Doyle's Corner bar in Astoria on the rainy night of May 16. The same scenario was witnessed several weeks earlier.
* A half-dozen hipster patrons at Brooklyn Ale House in Williamsburg smoking openly at the bar and at back tables early Saturday morning.
* A bartender at Boat in Brooklyn saying, "It's 12:30. You can smoke now," as they passed out makeshift ashtrays last Wednesday night.
Earlier, she told a patron to stop smoking, but after her announcement, a number of patrons started up again and the bar was filled with smokers for another hour.
* Dozens of smokers puffing on the dance floor and in the VIP area at the Marquee club on back-to-back nights as security guards looked the other way last week.
* At least 10 people smoking in Chelsea's small, exclusive club Bungalow 8 Thursday night. A security guard walked past the smokers to tell The Post, "You can't take pictures in here."
* Half the patrons of the Annadale Inn in Staten Island lighting up in the wee hours after the bartender closed the window gate to keep out prying eyes several weeks ago.
* Several smokers blowing smoke in the small basement of Lit Lounge on Second Avenue last week.
"They used to" enforce the smoking ban, Brett, a Marquee regular, told The Post last week. "But they barely pay attention now."
Smoking has been prohibited in bars, nightclubs and restaurants since March 2003, after the Bloomberg initiative became law in the fall of 2002.
Establishments are responsible for prohibiting smoking indoors, putting up "no smoking" signs and eliminating all ashtrays. Smokers are not punished.
Fines of up to $2,000 can be issued for every violation, and after three in one year businesses could lose their licenses. From April 2006 to March 2007, nine businesses were permanently shut due to smoking.
The city Department of Health said most businesses have been compliant, although there are violators. "We can't be everywhere all the time," a spokeswoman said.
Agency statistics show 199 establishments hit with 542 violations from April 2006 to March 2007, compared to 162 establishments getting 258 violations in the prior 12-month period. The number of complaints dropped from about 3,000 to 2,000 from last year to this year.
"It's a lose-lose," said an employee of a popular club on West 27th Street. "If we send people outside to smoke, people in the neighborhood got annoyed about the noise. If we let them smoke inside, we get hit with fines."
Allowing smoking indoors is "the lesser of two evils," he said.
Katie Browne, 26, a New Jersey paralegal and frequent clubgoer, said she has noticed a rise in smoking at nightspots over the past year.
"I hate it. My clothes are back to smelling like smoke, and it's gross," she said. "But there's no doubt about it – smoking's back."
Additional reporting by James Fanelli and Elizabeth Wolff? angela.montefinise@nypost.com

 

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