Numerous times, in this column, I’ve made critical remarks about Chile ’s ineffective tobacco control laws, which lag far behind those of Argentina and, especially, Uruguay. Now, it seems, the country is due to tackle the issue again: according to the online Santiago Times , the Chilean Senate is due to vote on legislation that would, among other measures, expand tobacco-free public spaces and restrict advertising of tobacco products.
Chile has alarmingly high smoking rates among its youth, with nearly 40 percent of 13-to-16 year-olds lighting up regularly. Certainly this is the country’s most urgent public health issue, but it’s unclear whether the legislation in question would expand to make restaurants and bars 100-percent smoke-free – at present, such establishments can simply decide whether or not to permit smoking.
If they permit smoking, however, they must either create non-smoking areas or, alternatively, prohibit the entry of anyone under age 18. Because of the latter clause, many otherwise fine restaurants are de facto free-fire zones for smokers. Chilean tobacco control, sadly, still has a long way to go, and that may still be the case even if the new legislation passes.
Southbound for Spring
As I write this, the northern hemisphere days are getting shorter, and I’m preparing to fly to Argentina  for a month and a half. It’s not quite time to update Moon Handbooks Buenos Aires  yet, even though that’s a never-ending task. Mainly, I’ll be photographing changes in the city, taking note of novelties, and gathering long-term information for my guidebooks and other projects . When I arrive, the annual Feria Internacional de Turismo  (International Tourism Fair) will be underway, and it’s a great place to get an idea of what’s happening in and around the country.
In the meantime, I’ve finished reviewing the galleys of the upcoming fourth edition of Moon Handbooks Chile, which is due out in December. When that happens, around the time I return from Argentina, I will hold one of my semi-regular giveaways, so if you’re looking to travel toward Chile, keep an eye on this space.