Smoke-free Chile

Picture this: it’s 5 am, and the temperature is barely above freezing. You’re finally home from a night out, and all you want to do is cozy up in bed. Instead, you’re standing on your balcony stripping to your skivvies.

chicago nighttime glow (b/w)

Via Monika Thorpe

A sign of having had too much to drink or being plain crazy? No, quite the opposite in fact. It takes a rational mind to resist the temptations of sleep long enough to take the steps necessary to avoid waking up in an ashtray. Which is what it used to smell like if you dared leave your clothes in your room after a night out in Chile, thanks to all that cigarette smoke in the bars and clubs.

That’s all changed, and I AM SO EXCITED. No more going home early because the smoke is drying out my contacts. No more shower steam that smells like cigarettes thanks to my hair. No more wintertime peep shows on the balcony!

On March 1, it became illegal to smoke in enclosed public spaces in Chile. Chile Libre de Tabaco, the main campaign behind this change, has a handy graphic that explains where you can smoke in Chile. Aside from the obviously prohibited spots – did we really have to specify that you can’t smoke in a supermarket or a hospital? – it names restaurants, bars, clubs and casinos.

Burning Cigarette

Via Abdullah Najeeb

Obviously, some smokers aren’t thrilled. But having just returned from Russia, I can assure you that smoking is alive and well in many parts of the world. This can become another reason to travel, like major sporting events. I reserve the right to judge a little if my friends start looking up “world’s smokiest nightclubs” or “top gambling getaways” just to go somewhere that will let them party all night long with the Marlboro Man, but at the same time, I’d rather have them off somewhere that the smoke doesn’t affect me!

There is really only one downside to this new law, and it’s that I have lost an excuse. Previously, I could always blame my desire to go home “early” (by which I mean 2 or 3 am) on the effects cigarette smoke. Now, I will have to be honest about the fact that I’m just tired and boring.

But I’ll take it. This is such a change to the general going out landscape that I almost classified this post under my Saturday in Santiago series – it’ll affect so many of the places I go to in this city. However, this is a country-wide change, which means that never again will I have to endure an overnight bus reeking of smoke after grabbing dinner before boarding in a poorly-ventilated bar. And I’ll gladly own my boring-ness in exchange for that.

24 Responses to “Smoke-free Chile”

  1. I am SO excited for this too! I will happily dance until 5AM now. And – our food won’t travel through cigarette smoke on the way to our tables. Wahoo!

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I may need to start drinking espresso at 10pm on nights I’m going out, but thanks to the clean air I might be out there dancing with you!

  2. Charu says:

    I think this is a great idea! New York did it a while back but glad it’s catching on :)

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I remember when California did it, and bar patrons complained, but I was not yet old enough to go to bars. Now that it’s happening here I can really appreciate both how much nicer it will be and also what a big change it really is for some people.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Hallelujah–the smoking in clubs and restaurants was one of a very few complaints we had about Santiago and Chile. And the smoke-free enviroment is something that has already caught on for most 1st world countries. Ireland started it in 2005. Seattle became smoke free several years ago. Even Taiwan is smoke free. Chile has been behind the times with regards to new smoking laws.

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I have to say, being in Russia right before all this happened made me appreciate even the former smoking laws in Chile. Remember the days when the “non-smoking” section of a restaurant was just behind a potted plant (if that) from the smoking section? Those days are still alive and well in Moscow! At least Chile had already figured that one out.

  4. Kyle says:

    Smoke free weddings have to be one of the biggest and bestest changes in my life this year.

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I was thinking how much healthier it would be for all of the waiters, barmen, DJs, etc, but I hadn’t thought about the impact on wedding photographers! I feel like your profession just added a few years to its average life expectancy, and I’m sure you’re loving it.

  5. Nicole says:

    Congratulations! They banned smoking in Spain a few years back and I’ve loved it every since. I’m ever-so-happy not to have to shower every night I come home from going out for dinner or a drink. It really makes a difference in your life when you’re not smothered in that stink after a night on the town!

    • Emily in Chile says:

      Once I lived in Chile I SO appreciated going out in California because of the lack of smell, and the thought of getting to do that all the time now has me practically giddy. I can wake up just smelling like me instead of smelling like a 2-pack-a-day smoker!

  6. Marmo says:

    Odio el humo del cigarrillo por los mismos motivos que mencionas, de hecho hizo que evite salir a locales nocturnos con tal de no volver convertido en un cigarrillo humano en cada salida.
    Sin embargo, esta ley tiene un efecto secundario (que afortunadamente no he experimentado aún); en los locales donde antes el olor a cigarro llenaba el ambiente, muchas veces se ocultaba el “aroma” de grupos grandes de gente, sudorosos y encerrados. Tal vez junto con prohibir el cigarrillo debieran obligar a tener aire acondicionado en esos lugares, por que, según algunos amigos, el remedio ha resultado peor que la enfermedad en algunos lados, lol xD

    • Emily in Chile says:

      Jajaja, pero los chilenos están obsesionados con el higiene personal! Crees que de verdad vamos a notar un nuevo perfume nacional en una población que lava los dientes todos los días en el baño de la oficina para evitar malos olores post-almuerzo? Vamos a ver, pero yo les tengo fé :)

  7. That is such awesome news for Chile!

  8. decoybetty says:

    This is awesome. This time I came to Melbourne in 2006 there was smoking in bars and clubs and I just remember reeking. Then when I came back in 2008, there was no more smoking. It was GLORIOUS. Of course, I then stopped going out to clubs and bars.

    • Emily in Chile says:

      Glorious is the perfect word to describe my thoughts. Although like you, I should really start going out more again to take advantage!

  9. Carine says:

    Having returned from Chile on Monday and having spent two weeks there, it was just fabulous to be able to go into a restaurant without having to breath someone elses’ cigarette’s smoke and actually being able to see the group of friends we were with instead of looking a them through a haze of cigarette smoke. Really happy Chile has caught up with many places in the world and banned cigarettes in public places. Hurray for Chile!

    • Emily in Chile says:

      Isn’t it lovely? I’m glad you had a good trip and got to enjoy the new and improved bar scene!

  10. Meg says:

    Wow that is awesome! I have such sensitive eyes to smoke and I also hate it when the smell sticks to my clothes. It was so hard going out to places in South America and Europe during our travels that were smokey – It totally ruins the experience. This just gives us one more reason to come back to Santiago!

  11. Joaquin says:

    every one should leave smoking… if the doctors make medical orders to delivery for each chilean smoker to give clinical medication to quit smoking i personally can delivery to each smoker in the country

  12. joaquin says:

    Lose of adaptation ability is not a joke also can carry damage furthermore if a smoker damage a non smoker pfft!!
    the irony you did is to control the conversation or you already control it then you can say anythink?

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I am not sure what you mean by this comment, but I want to clarify that I haven’t controlled comments at all here. You are welcome to post in Spanish if that would be easier.

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.


Emily in Chile on Twitter Emily in Chile on Facebook
Emily in Chile on Pinterest Emily in Chile on Instagram