Pervasive, unreasonable smoking bans have gotten to the point where I, a non-smoker, would be happy to light up a cancer stick just to piss off the moralists who insist I shouldn't, mustn't, and can't. I suppose I'm not alone.
Plenty of New York City bars have thumbed their noses at the smoking ban for as long as it has been the law. As early as 2004, The New York Times wrote about neighborhood bars that allowed friends and regulars to light up after closing time. In 2008, at the opening of the Libertine, a Todd English restaurant in the financial district, cigarette girls handed out free smokes that guests consumed liberally.
But corner bars that tolerate smoking have traditionally relied on flying too far below the radar to be noticed. By contrast, at expensive paparazzi-flanked nightclubs that appear in gossip columns, there seems to be a new brazenness.