From New York to Beijing, where in the world can you still smoke in a bar?
We've reached the point where it seems quicker to count the cities that actually let people smoke in their bars than the ones where it is banned. Even the sybaritic city of New Orleans finally outlawed smoking last week. But when you look into it (as determined smokers no doubt have), there are still many bars and cafes around the world – and even in the US – in which they may freely enjoy their unhealthy habit. For example ...
Surprisingly, some bars do still exist in New York where people can legally smoke indoors, thanks to the "cigar bars loophole". To qualify, a bar must have been opened before the end of 2001, it must receive at least 10% of its revenue from tobacco sales and 60% from alcohol, and it must be certified compliant by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Philadelphia, too, hasn't yet banned smoking completely in bars, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.
Perhaps the only conceivable benefit of a cigarette addiction is that it can (briefly) restrict your gambling addiction, if you have to go outside to light up. The gambling haven of Nevada can't have that, of course, so as things stand smoking remains permitted in the gaming areas of casinos, as well as certain designated bars and nightclubs.
Just one exception has been provided in Denmark's otherwise total ban on public smoking: bars may allow you to do it if they, or a designated room, have an area less than 40 square metres (that's about one seventh of a tennis court, for reference). Few bars qualify, so people generally smoke outside in the Danish capital, which is usually perceived as a paragon of urban virtue.
Technically it is legal for residents and visitors to smoke only cannabis in anAmsterdam coffeeshop, although it is perhaps far-fetched to imagine someone's joint being searched for evidence of contraband tobacco. Nevertheless some coffeeshops and other venues do supply a separate smoking room, which by law must be separate, enclosed and unstaffed.
Thanks to a terrible law full of loopholes, small bars and cafes are exempt from Austria's smoking ban - as are larger ones, provided they establish a smoking area, which nobody polices very thoroughly. As a result, Vienna and the rest of Austria are virtually the last holdout for smoking in western Europe. Plans for a new law are underway, however, so this situation may not last long.
Eastern Europe is another matter. In the Czech Republic, currently, bar ownerscan ban smoking if they choose - or not if they don't. And a lot don't. But as in Austria, such permissiveness may well soon be legislated away.
Both cigarettes and shisha pipes are deeply ingrained in Egyptian life – and so, as a result, are heart disease and lung cancer. In fact, smoking in public has been banned several times by various regimes, both nationally and by individual cities, but each time the new rules have been almost totally ignored and soon forgotten. As a result, although a ban covers most public buildings and a lot of hotel restaurants, people can generally smoke as much as they like in almost any cafe in Egypt.
Nearly a third of the world's smokers live in China, and the Chinese government is getting serious about tobacco control in cities. It just isn't getting serious very fast. Smoking was only banned in Chinese schools last year, which as a result can now no longer sell tobacco in their canteens or accept sponsorship from tobacco companies! Different cities have different laws, but smoking is permitted in most places, except public buildings.
Traditionally a smoker's city, the Japanese capital has gradually tightened its restrictions to the point where they are, well, still extremely loose. Not only can people smoke in many bars and restaurants, sometimes they might even be required to, in order not to break rules that prohibit smoking on the street.
It seems almost unthinkable that public smoking might be banned in the world's most famous tobacco city. In fact it has been banned in all of Cuba, in virtually all enclosed public spaces, since 2005, but that doesn't mean everybody realises. Finding a bar or a restaurant that will let you smoke is, by all accounts, not much of a challenge.
In Cambodia there is no smoking ban as such. Instead, cafe owners are asked to consider telling people to smoke outside. "If they still do not obey, the owner must call the police to educate them," explained Hok Khiev, a director of the legal department at the Ministry of Health.
Smoking is so freely practised in Indonesia that people can do it almost anywhere. Cigarettes are barely taxed. Cigarette advertising is unrestricted. Even when legislation began to require unpleasant images to be printed on packets last year there was little sign of it actually happening.
Not a city, obviously, but the fourth largest Channel Island still merits a mention on this list for possessing some of the world's weirdest smoking laws. As things stand, smoking is banned there in pubs, bars and restaurants, but not in shops, offices or places of worship. Which is one way to improve church attendances, I suppose. You can't smoke in your car, of course, because Sark also bans cars.
And more ...
The countries of the former Yugoslavia belong on a long list of others – along with Romania, Greece, Portugal, Israel and most of Latin America – which in theory have introduced a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, but where in practice many visitors would find it difficult to tell.