Cigars are said to be part of the classic Cuban experience. The 'rules of the game' are changing after state-owned restaurants in Havana have caught up with the rest of the world and gone smoke-free indoors.
Cuban cigars have a reputation across the world, and last year made the Cuban economy $400 million in sales. From now on, the country with strong tobacco traditions will have to get used to 'taking it outside'.
The move to improve the health of diners at restaurants has provoked a wave of negative reactions from locals and tourists who insist that cigars are part of their national character and daily routine.
"That (no-smoking ordinances) is what we have in Europe, in Germany, but we don't want this here," Michael Kuntze, a tourist from Hamburg on a nine-day tobacco trip across Cuba was quoted as saying.
At least nine state-run restaurants in a tourist area of the capital have already banned smoking inside. The trend is set to gain momentum in the coming months.
Cuba is a country of heavy smokers. Four out of every ten Cubans are said to smoke.
Since 2005 the country has officially banned smoking in enclosed public areas including theatres, offices, taxis and restaurants, many seem to be unaware of the law, and it's common to see Cubans smoking anywhere they feel like.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012