Mexico City has always struck me as one of those places that welcomes the unapologetically inveterate smoker. Candy stands and newspaper kiosks sell single loose cigarettes on the street, and at 3 a.m. parties always degenerate into discussions about who knows a coke dealer that will deliver at that hour, and where is the closest convenience store to buy smokes. The anti-tobacco lobby had its place but it was condescended to, if not laughed at; I remember, for example, in a restaurant people blithely lighting up underneath a “no smoking section” sign.
Until now. Last month the City Assembly passed a law that banned tobacco from public places. Even more shocking, people are obeying without putting up a fight; even late at night, at bars and cantinas the customers go out onto the street for their tobacco fix rather than try to flout the law.
Some supposed intellectuals are making a stink about how the smoking prohibition flouts their “rights,” and a couple of journalists incurred the wrath of many when they compared the state’s sanctions against cigarettes to the Nazis and their concentration camps. While debate has been promised it looks like their arguments will quickly go up in smoke.