Pity the Poor, Repressed European Tourist in Latin America

Cuba is apparently gradually making restaurants smoke-free spaces, and at least some tourists are less than happy:

The goal is to improve the culinary experience and safeguard the health of both diners and employees, but it’s also raising eyebrows among cigar aficionados and cigarette smokers who say the right to light up is part of the tropical country’s charm. […]

“No-smoking areas? It’s incredible!” said Michael Kuntze, a 59-year-old German day care manager who was savoring a long cigar and sipping rum and cola in the Hotel Conde de Villanueva, home to one of the city’s most popular cigar rooms. […] “That (no-smoking ordinances) is what we have in Europe, in Germany, but we don’t want this here,” he said, as aromatic smoke rose from the thick ash at the end of his stogie. “This is why we are here. Not to sit inside a small smoking lounge, no. Never.”

No smoking indoors where other non-smokers eat? Why, that’s something that only communist states that hate freedom would do!

And while neo-colonialist attitudes in the 21st century can take many forms, this has to be one of my favorites in recent memory. How dare Cuba impose the same health measures that my own country enjoys! What’s the fun of going to developing world countries if I have to give their workers the same healthy, non-cancer-inducing working conditions that restaurant workers in my own country enjoy! Also, one of the German tourists’ declarations that “Cuban jazz without a cigar [is] not so good” only proves that he knows absolutely nothing about music.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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3 Responses to Pity the Poor, Repressed European Tourist in Latin America

  1. Ha! As a non-smoker who lives in Germany, I’d like to point out that the anti-smoking laws here are widely ignored. Anyone who wants to talk about Germans’ obsession with rules and obedience should see them puffing away in their “smoking clubs”, hurriedly set up to circumvent the law.

    • I actually checked to see what the actual legal status was in Germany (turns out, it was a state-by-state basis like in the US), but the term “smoking club” and “smoking area” seemed vaguely defined in some of the state laws. Good to know.

  2. That’s right, it varies by state (German “Land”), like many things here. In the state where I live, it seems to be accepted that the “smoking clubs” are not really legal – they are not really private clubs, as they accept anyone as members, often for free, you just need to sign a piece of paper or even buy a drink as “membership” – but they continue because there is very little will or budget for monitoring them or closing them down. On the other hand, I have noticed a big reduction in the number of places serving food and allowing smoking, and that is good thing for a non-smoker like me.

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