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.
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.
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.