Not long after I began this blog, a law was passed in Mexico City banning smoking in restaurants and bars. At the time, so many people smoked here that I thought the statute would be resolutely ignored. To my surprise, just about everyone complied; it was the subject of one of my first posts. Since then, it has been a lot easier to eat and drink in public places; you can go home without wheezing like an asthmatic and smelling like an ashtray.
However, a couple of years ago, I noticed a man smoking at the next table to me at a sidewalk cafe. I asked him to stop, but a large woman at another table, quite vehemently, told me that if I didn’t like it I could lump it and go elsewhere. I mentioned that it was against the law to smoke in restaurants, and even more aggressively, the lady told me that I was wrong.
It took me a long time to get the story straight, but if I understand correctly, the tobacco companies lobbied very hard among local politicians, and got regulations passed that it could be at the discretion of management whether or not to allow people to smoke at sidewalk tables in bars and restaurants. Mexican waiters would be loathe to tell their customers not to do anything, so now the outdoor tables — obviously the best seats in the house when the weather is good — are loaded with smokers. While having my lunch the other day in Colonia Condesa, I was downwind from Poindexter over here. He made the experience less appetizing.
Well, the ban was fun while it lasted.