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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Buenos Aires - Now Smoke Free!

Buenos Aires just earned another point in my book and simultaneously rid itself of one of the biggest complaints I've heard from US expats and tourists -- the smoke filled restaurants and bars. Those expats who are here from Europe, of course, may not be so thrilled, but if you're among the 80% of US expats who don't smoke, you're probably feeling a little less congested after walking out of a restaurant in Buenos Aires.

This weekend I remember leaving AcaBar, a restaurant / bar in Palermo, with some friends and I realized how much different the experience was from just 5 months ago when I went there with this same group of friends. The last time, the place was so smoke-filled that you could hardly see across from one end to the other. I remembered that after I got home, I had to strip off all my clothes and take a shower just to get the smell of smoke out of my hair.

Since the bar provides free table games for everyone to play, in the past it was full with groups of people chatting away and smoking up enough cigarettes to supply an army. Now its possible to enjoy a board game with friends there without having to take an antihistamine and an aspirin beforehand.

Kudos to Buenos Aires! If I could vote, I'd reelect whoever decided to do a little something to improve public health. Now all they need to do is start fining the dog owners who let their dogs crap everywhere and pick up the garbage more frequently and the city would earn another 2 points.

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Anonymous NonSmkerBA said...

Hey, I'm from Europe and I am happy about the smoke-free restaurants and bars in BA too...

(Are there stats that say Europeans are heavier smokers than Americans, I would be interested if there are)

...I would be happier if everyone actually stuck to the new law though!

11/02/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger El Expatriado said...

I'm sure the stats exist if you Googled them. Maybe check the annual report of the cigarette companies and look where their biggest market growth is. For sure it won't be the USA. I can tell you just from personal observation that Europeans are MUCH heavier smokers than Americans. I've travelled all over Europe and the United States and I can assure you that Europe is a big chimney compared to the United States. I'm surprised the whole continent isn't dying of lung cancer.

Meanwhile, smoking is falling year by year in the United States. We're all destined to die of heart disease, though, so go figure...

11/02/2006 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous El Americano said...

If history offers any guide, here's what will happen with that law;

They'll enforce it -more or less- for about 4 months ...6 TOPS. At best they'll peak at about 60% compliance within Cap. Fed. and approx. 13% compliance in 'provincias'.

Since the argie police are INCAPABLE of enforcing more than ONE law at any given time, they'll eventually run-off like a mentally challenged child in pursuit of whatever NEW law violations grasps the public's attention in the future and they'll stop enforcing the no-smoking ban.

It'll be like with seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, matafuegos etc. etc.
They'll write-up a LOT of showy tickets (which probably will never get paid anyway) and for every ticket they actually write they know they'll get 27 bribes to write 27 less. Then they move on to the next "Hot" topic.

Come on!. Argentina without smoke is like Pepsi without bubbles.

11/02/2006 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Alexis said...

Couldn't have said it better. Tickets are a source of income for the police, who will always give you the option to pay the fine "cash" at a reduced rate. Their role is not to enforce rules, it's to look good in a uniform.

11/03/2006 08:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an American exile who DOES smoke, and who largely came to Argentina BECAUSE it's a relatively unfettered society, it pisses me off to see BsAs becoming sterilized like New York. I understand the need for non-smokers to have their places, too...but all the "cleaning up" tends to lead in the direction of homogeny, which I thought was the reason people were keen to LEAVE the US...

11/03/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

Very big of you to recognize "the need for non-smokers to have their places, too" as you work on destroying your health with your nasty habit.

11/03/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Anonymous El Americano said...

Relax my anonymous friend, in a country where you can get away freely with murder you will ALWAYS have an opportunity to puff at will.

11/03/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger johnny said...

Smoke em if you got em. I'm with Anonymous on this one. As I mentioned during the "seat belt debate", watch what you wish for, you might get it. Banning smoking is another symptom of the "we know what is best for you" mentality beginning to run rampant damn near everywhere. Give em time and they will want to ban, or set limits, on something that YOU like to do. Only a matter of time. New York City is now seriously considering banning trans fats in restaurant food. Yes, you say, they are bad. Well, beware the big brother, sterile future. The wind be a blowing.

11/08/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said it Johnny!

I'll be in Ba As on Saturday!
They leave USA because they don't like it.
Now they come here and want to change the Paris of South America.

11/09/2006 11:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that too much regulation does tend to "sterilize" a society but in this instance, our right to not be forced to inhale a carcinogenic substance supercedes your right to live perpetually in Marlboro country. In addition many suffer from allergies and asthma which are exacerbated by smoke. I am borderline allergic to smoke for instance. I will often start sneezing and my eyes start watering.

Having said that, I feel that PRIVATELY owned restaurants should be allowed to regulate smoking as they please. Eventually smokers will congregate in one place and non-smokers in another. That is provided Argentine bar/restaurant owners have the sense to cater to the non-smoking crowd. I tend to think it would not be all that profitable as most people here seem to smoke.

11/10/2006 11:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but tell me what about those damn diesel buses.... between that, the dog #@* and the missing sidewalk tiles,walking along the street is a challange! It reminds me of NYC in the seventies. I love, love the city,(palermo is my Fav) but heavily fine those dog owners and clean up the bus exhust fumes! My partner lives in Cordoba and he is a smoker, he is saying that the restruants are enforcing the rule there big time.(as a New Yorker I think it is great as I do want to breath as teh other option is NOT a good one)

11/12/2006 08:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul J. said...

Great news!! now I can bring my kids to restaurants and not worry about having them have an allergy attack due to smoke. It is all part of becoming a responsible society - I hope it lasts.


11/14/2006 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous El Americano said...

"Great news!! now I can bring my kids to restaurants and not worry about having them have an allergy attack due to smoke"

Yes!. Now you can go back to worrying about the basics, like; "I wonder if my kids will be caught in a crossfire and shot when the restaurant I take them to gets held-up!"

11/15/2006 03:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul J. said...

>>Yes!. Now you can go back to worrying about the basics, like; "I wonder if my kids will be caught in a crossfire and shot when the restaurant I take them to gets held-up!"

Growing up in NY, I am used to that...

11/15/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve L. said...

Most discussions about these laws tend to focus on the direct end results (like being able to smoke/being able to breathe), however they often forget about why they actually get passed. The primary reason public smoking bans get enacted is because of the externalities associated with smoking that are dumped on public health institutions. It's the same with seat belt laws or any other law which tries to get you to do something for your health against your freewill.

In most cases its not a paternalistic attempt at running your life, just an attempt to not have to pay your hospital bills should you not have private insurance and get sent through the window or develop lung cancer.

11/16/2006 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger johnny said...

Steve L,

With all due respect your argument is rubbish. This idea that non smoking legislation is fueled by concerns about public hospital bills is ludicrous. If that were the case we would see legislation banning nearly every dangerous and semi dangerous activity known to man. All of those activities can land someone in a hospital, publicly funded or not. Athletic events might be the first to go. Can't be using public funds to fix up those torn ligaments and broken bones ! Everyone's diet will be strictly monitored ! Can't be spending public funds on heart surgery, etc. Anti smoking legislation is fueled by anti smokers and the legislators who cater to them !!!!! HELLO ! And yes, their desire to eat out, etc without inhaling smoke is understandable. So, let's be reasonable, have smoking and no smoking sections etc. The problem however is that many, many anti smokers essentially want smoking ABOLISHED. Why ? Because they don't LIKE IT ! It really is just that simple.

11/17/2006 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

Train ALL dogs to crap on the toilet..problem solved!

11/18/2006 08:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Argentina Blogger said...

Really? What a change! I went to high school in BA, and the one constancy through every night out on the town was the thick, inescapable cloud of smoke.

I was used to it back then, but after 6 years in socal, it's hard to deal with, so I'm very happy about this change. It should make the upcoming holidays that much more pleasant.

11/21/2006 09:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Cecilia said...

hello, i'm Cecilia
i'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina
i'm never be here, because i'm new in blogs. I'll try know more about blog's community.
very interesting site, come back again shure!

11/23/2006 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve L. said...


Why do you think we have speed limits? Seat belt laws? Government regulations on air travel, drugs, food etc?

Because of market failure and their external costs on public institutions.

Your examples are micro in focus, whereas an issue such as smoking or those above affect an immensely larger population.

Is smoking regulation effective in curbing public costs? I don't know. There's research to support both sides. If you were to make the point that its in response to lobbying groups then I would agree with you in part. However, my point was that in general, legislation such as this is aimed at addressing market failures and their costs to the public.

11/27/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Mad_Maxx said...

I hate all this big brother stuff. People can't even smoke in a bar!?

One of the good things about Argentina compared to the US is you have alot less of this type of stuff.

Smokers don't worry. El Americano is right though. It won't last. This has 0% chance of actually being enforced a year from now.

Pretty much like 99% of every other law in Argentina! Ha!

1/04/2007 02:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Guy Daley said...

As a devout non-smoker, I couldn't be happier. The addicted are never going to become enlightened. Nicotine should be banned and never would have been approved for consumption if it were introduced recently, but its been around for centuries. Now that it is a law and if someone continues to smoke after I've asked you to put it out. You will find out it is more dangerous to your health than you realize.

2/26/2007 02:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Attaque said...

I guess the author of this article made a good point: it's definitively important not to have to wash your hair and clothes when you come home from „Saturday-night-out.“ It really dampens one's spirit...

As my friend recently observed, there is a strong fascist streak running in the anti-smoking lobby and simpatizers of these laws.
Being that there aren't many outlets for fascist frothing in the sterilized, PC western society of today, it seems like it concentrated on this particular vice - smoking.
We gave up on lots of vices in recent yeas, for various reasons (well, $$$ mainly), but „we“ chose to go rampant on this particular one. For health reasons, apparently. Sure.
Of course that we could all agree that smoking is not good for health, and that children and people with health issues should not be in any case exposed to smoke.
I, - as well as many, if not all civilised smokers - am all for the smoking-ban in the majority of places. It's only natural that I would never think of lighting up one in a plane, train, bus, the hospital waiting room, or any public institution.
In addition, we could all agree that every restaurant and bar should have a (at least equally large) non-smoking area, with good ventilation.
But somehow, this does not work, and the attempts are never enforced with equal zeal.
I've noticed that the many antismoking lobbyists (especially from the US) do not want anything but a total and unconditional ban. Not designated smoking and non-smoking areas: an altogether ban.

Mind you, we are talking here about pubs, bars and clubs - places where, on Friday or Saturday night, majority of people hardly give a diddly squat about health.
People go at these places at night to have fun, drink alcohol (!), some of them hoping to score some casual sex (!), some perhaps to score some drugs (!), …
But no smoking: smoking should be banned from places like this because it's BAD FOR YOU..
This really blows my mind.
And saddens me a bit, because I loved Buenos Aires for the relaxed atmosphere. Yes, even for the dog-poo. I'd rather step in an occasional dogshit than be livin in a goddamn white-clean museum or a hospital …

4/03/2007 08:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guy Daley said...

"As a devout non-smoker, I couldn't be happier. The addicted are never going to become enlightened. Nicotine should be banned and never would have been approved for consumption if it were introduced recently, but its been around for centuries. Now that it is a law and if someone continues to smoke after I've asked you to put it out. You will find out it is more dangerous to your health than you realize."

Ban Nicotine? Just like the geniuses in the US Congress that decided Alcohol is bad, therefore it must be banned. That turned over control of alcohol to the organized crime. Alcohol became cheaper and more popular than ever. Speakeasies sprung up in back rooms and basements across the country. Not to mention profits were now tax free since it is an organized crime industry

As a person who DOESN'T EVEN SMOKE I can honestly say people like you are tyrants plain and simple.

You don't like something it should be banned. If there is too much smoke for you, leave and go to one of the health nut vegan restaurants with all the other non-smoking, despotic poofs.

There is nothing stopping a person in ANY country from opening an establishment and not allowing smoking to cater to the people that desire to be in a restaurant free of smoke. You don't need a ban to have your non smoker clubs.

Someone should open a bar/restaurant called Smokey's (where you get asked to leave if someone asks you to smoke and you don't light up) just to piss this guy off?

10/25/2007 01:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live now in BsAs and I found this page while looking for satellite pictures of the cloud of smoke (that comes from fires to clear land some kilometers north of the city) that is covering the city right now. Of course I quite laughed when I read all the comments about a "smoke free Buenos Aires"... Coming back to the topic, I just wanted to point out how things are now, a year and a half after the law passed. The fact is, the law is not that much enforced, as we all predicted. Still, I have to point out that smoking has decreaced in bars, etc. It did not disappear totally, because there is always someone smoking at any moment, just not everybody as they used to do. The situation is quite better in restaurants, where I have seen many of them enforce it. So, like most of our laws it has been somewhat forgotten, but not as completely as I expected. I don`t know if others observed the same things I did, but that is how I see it. I just wanted to see what others thought about it. Oh! I was born and lived all my life in Bs As (in palermo), so I liked reading how you people see my city. I know it is faaaar from perfect, but it is home and it is very difficult to try to see it from your perspective. Still, I`m happy most of you like it, even if you can clearly see some of it`s deficiencies. Hopefully some of those issues will be resolved sometime in the future..... maybe by the year 3000?

4/17/2008 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Mentally preparing for a retirement move to Argentina - and looking for advice.
Imagine you are me. You are an avid wing shooter (doves, ducks, partridge, et al, and not there to see how many birds you can kill [read that, just take long walks in the country where locals are willing to let me take home a brace of birds every few days or so]), you like fishing, you like fine restaurants (that may even be willing to cook your game while you have a glass or two of wine), sidewalk cafes, and beautiful scenery, and all of it close at hand. Where in Argentina would you want to live? A pre-positioned thanks to anybody willing to point me in the right direction!

Ed Lowery
Las Vegas

10/17/2008 02:58:00 PM  

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